Retargeter Blog

Creative Matters Pt III: Color, Characters and Call to Action

In this installment of Creative Matters we will discuss several examples and how simple, yet effective, details can add to the value of your campaign. Below is a short collection of ads which have performed above average, netting click through rates of up to .32%. We have broken down these creatives into three areas where they succeed – Color, Characters and Call to Action.

Zendesk HelpDesk 2.0 Ad


A common theme in high performing creatives is vibrancy. Colorful ad units, on average, perform better than ads featuring subtle and muted tones. As you can see in the Zendesk ad (above) and SEOmoz ad (below), colors play a large role in attracting attention. While not all ads need to be filled with color, the Slidedeck ad (bottom) is a great example of how color can accent neutral tones like black and gray. No matter the content of the ad unit, the primary goal is to attract attention.



We often find that having characters, or images of people, in ads increases performance notably. SEOmoz (above) often utilizes Roger the Robot in their creatives and we have found a direct correlation between the use of Roger and a higher CTR. Strategically, using characters such as Roger adds a sense of humor, fun and friendliness to the brand. This ultimately creates a better response from users and is more inviting to click through. Attractive humans, dinosaurs, robots, pets – we don’t discriminate.

SlideDeck Try A Demo

Call To Action

While it may seem trivial due to an ads innate nature, we have found a very strong correlation between having an old fashioned button and a higher CTR. While you may assume, “It’s an ad, people will know to click it,” without a visual cue to do so, we find there is less chance of a click through. While the Zendesk and SEOmoz ads respectfully have no real traditional CTA, we have determined that their design still initiates clicking through other various tricks such as drop shadow, rounded corners and logo placement.

Other Great Factors:

All of these ads feature font choices that are simple and lend friendliness to the brand. Solid logo placement and layer effects which increase visual depth can also be seen. Ads which visually seem three dimensional can also perform extremely well due to how much they stand out from traditional 2d web space.

Do you think these three ads look similar? That’s because they follow similar creative guidelines that yield the best results with ReTargeting. Try following similar guidelines the next time you build creatives in house and AB test against your old creatives. You’ll be surprised at what you see.

If you haven’t read them already, don’t forget to check out:
Creative Matters Pt II
Creative Matters Pt I

Leave a Comment


  • Really enjoyed reading this post. Creating the most effective ad display truly is an art. Not exciting enough and the ad goes unnoticed, too flashy and as you say in CM I it comes off as “spammy.” (Which could contribute to the 54% of users that have a general distrust of ads, as you mention in CM I.)

    World famous pick-up artist Mystery, in his work, talks about the importance of “pea-cocking.” While pea-cocking, the goal is to wear something that makes one stand out, whether it be one crazy piece of jewelry, a hat or a vibrantly colored shirt, you want to draw the attention of others and make them approach you. However, Mystery also speaks on the importance of only wearing one jaunty article of clothing; people may stare at a clown, but nobody is drawn to one. Though a clear correlation between Mystery’s work as a pick up artist and advertisements may not be overtly apparent, the core aim of the two remains the same. Both aim to attract not just as much attention as possible, but as much interest as possible, while concurrently developing trust; both aim to create or deepen relationships of some sort in a minimal amount of time. Having mentioned the importance of pea-cocking though not appearing like a clown, I believe the reason the original iPod ad you mention in CM II was so effective is because it was just vibrant enough to draw the viewer’s attention, yet simple enough to not overwhelm. By not overwhelming, the ad most importantly allowed the viewer to focus on the product, the white iPod sticking out. The same holds true for the three ads shown in this post.

    As you also mention, characters and attractive humans can help increase the effectiveness and CTR of an ad. Robert Cialdini, in his work, Influence: Science and Practice, states, “ We commonly assign to good-looking individuals such traits as talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence.” This holds true for animated characters and anyone or anything we as people have built some kind of relationship/ familiarity with. By putting such a familiar or likable character on an ad it accomplishes both aims of advertising formerly noted, creating interest and building trust.

  • Great points to remember here–I wonder what the impact would be if the call to action was even more engaging than a button like a big switch or a doorknob?