Retargeter Blog

Attacking Bad Banners: Investing in Clean Banners

Solar Mosaic, one of our clients, is participating in a very special edition of attacking bad banners. We had noticed that some of their ad creative was looking a little lackluster, so our Ad Studio offered to make over a banner free of charge as a part of this series on banner ad best practices.

Solar Mosaic is an innovative investment company that crowd sources funding for solar energy projects, allowing ordinary people to become investors and reap the returns of profitable investments in clean energy.  You can read more about what they do in the New York Times.

Solar Mosaic uses ReTargeter to improve brand awareness and recall and to ultimately drive casual web visitors to become profitable investors.

Here’s one of the banners Solar Mosaic was using in their retargeting campaign:

Mosaic Original

This is far from the worst banner we’ve ever seen. As banners go, this is quite close to the ideal. The branding is there, the call-to-action inhabits a clear and distinctly clickable button, and the copy is concise and descriptive. In most cases, the aforementioned attributes are woefully mishandled, resulting in bad banners.

In this case, there were a few other issues that led us to the conclusion that this banner needs a makeover.

The Branding is There….Or Is It?

While the logo is represented in the left hand corner of the banner, it’s framed in a distinct box, separating it from the rest of the content. Furthermore, its distinct box is also white, which means it could be likely to blend into the background of the sites it appears on.

With respect to the overall color scheme, we find brighter banners tend to perform better, as the pastels employed here may be unlikely to stand out sufficiently to make a strong visual impression on your users.

Banners Are a Balancing Act

Incorporating a photo of a person (more specifically, an attractive peer) is often a good idea in advertising, and banner ads are no exception. We don’t find fault with the inspiration, but rather, with the execution. Photos work extremely well when accompanied by a name and testimonial for example, or when they play a prominent role in the ad. Contrastingly, this photo seems somewhat arbitrary. Lacking is the sense that this man is a peer who has invested successfully and is now suggesting we do the same. Furthermore, the subject is cropped rather awkwardly, with just part of his face visible, and he’s looking out, away from the banner, rather than drawing us in.

While generally you want your copy to be as large and readable as possible, this tagline is overpowering and not well-balanced with the other components of the banner. The sub-tagline, ‘Invest in Solar the Profitable Way,’ is not particularly easy to read due to the lack of contrast between the font color and the background.

Here’s our version of the offending banner: 

Notice that we’ve redone the logo to be a more cohesive part of the creative.  Rather than offset in a separate box, the logo shares the same background, and is located closer to the center of the ad.

In lieu of the photo used in the previous example, we’ve decided to make the solar installations the hero. Using a photograph of a solar panel from the clients’ site, we’ve redone the banner around it. As the solar panels are actually quite stunning, and look quite a bit like Solar Mosaic’s logo, we felt it was a shame not to feature them in a banner.

The tagline highlighted here is ‘Invest in Solar,’ a more active phrase than ‘Solar Power Investments,’ which we believe will be more likely to, well, spur action. While we rarely advocate introducing more copy, in this instance we believe it was appropriate to list a few primary investment benefits under the tagline. We also wanted to be sure not to remove the word ‘profitable’ in the ad copy, as this is going to be the most salient point for investors.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

If you have a banner that needs a makeover, submit it here for consideration.

Leave a Comment

6 Comments

  • Great write-up. I constantly come across poorly executed banners, and this article includes some great tips for those comprising an ad banner. The second banner makes much more of an impact on me, the audience, than the first one.

  • / As an individual working in the advertising department, I’ve seen many bad ads (both online and off). I keep scratching my head thinking of how those badly executed ads got the green light! lol

  • It is a great breakdown but why don’t you go the full distance and tell what the improvement in ctr’s are so we can see case studies of what improved banners do in terms of bottom line dollars and cents?

    • Great point Justin. At the time of the post, the second banner had just been created, so there was no data on improved CTRs.

      As a secondary point, we always caution against relying too heavily on CTR as a peformance metric because it doesn’t tell the whole story. Many Internet users will never click on a banner ad, but that doesn’t mean the banner doesn’t have an impact. ReTargeter AdStudio works hard to create banners that are memorable and can lead to lasting brand recognition among the significant percentage of users who don’t click.

  • I love the points that you make in this article, but was disappointed that the image of your version of the improved banner is missing!