Best display ad examples - A guide to creative ad design

Display advertising is used effectively by advertisers (or brands) across industries. But what goes into great display ads? And how can you create the best ads for your campaign? The following provides an overview of display advertising with tips, examples and ideas for how you can leverage Amazon Advertising’s solutions to help drive results.

What is display advertising?

Display advertising refers to ads that are delivered online—via social media, stores like Amazon, or apps. These ads can feature text, images, animations, video, and/or audio. Display ads are often measured by cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM). CPC is the price an advertiser pays each time a customer clicks on a display ad. CPM is the price an advertiser pays per one thousand advertisement impressions.

What is the difference between display ads and banner ads?

Some people use the terms “display ad” and “banner ad” interchangeably. Creative banner ads are just one size of display ad. The best banner ads are complemented by ads in other sizes within the same site or app. Other common sizes include square, leaderboard, skyscraper, and wide skyscraper.

Benefits of display advertising

There are many benefits. For example, display ads are:

  • Measurable, typically through cost per click or cost per action metrics
  • Flexible, so you can easily edit copy or swap out different images.
  • Testable, as you can try different creatives to discover which colors, images, or calls to action (CTAs) customers respond to best.
  • Cost-effective, particularly when comparing CPCs with other traditional advertising formats, such as search engine marketing.
  • Tailored to your audience.
  • Complementary to other marketing strategies, such as social media marketing, so you can reinforce your message.
  • Remarketable, as you can engage with audiences who encountered your brand or product but didn’t make a purchase.

Five elements of effective creative for display ads

There are five basic elements of effective creative for display ads. Every element in your creative needs to be chosen carefully and strategically to align with your objective and help engage audiences.

1. Imagery

Depending on your goal, you must decide whether to feature a product image or lifestyle image. For example, if your goal is to increase consideration, you might want to use a product image. If your goal is awareness, you may want to showcase a lifestyle image to demonstrate how customers might use the product in their day-to-day.

2. Call to action (CTA)

CTAs are a way to guide the customer through their journey. For example, if the CTA is “Learn more,” then you are letting the customer know that they will be able to gain more information about the product when they click on the creative. CTAs should be strategic and align to your objective.

3. Brand logo

Always include a clear brand logo on ad creatives to help increase your brand exposure, build credibility for your product, and help customers make a connection between your brand and offerings.

4. Headline

Communicate a strong statement that is impactful, as the headline is often the first—and perhaps the only—thing a customer will see. Use plain language to appeal to your widest possible audience. Consider posing a question, solving a problem, incorporating humor, or conveying empathy. Impactful headlines often begin with an active verb illustrating how a product can benefit consumers.

5. Body copy

Use simple and concise language to highlight specific, unique features of the product, support the claim in the headline, or answer a posed question.

Three tips for creative ad design

There are three main pillars that you should take into account to help achieve optimal creative ad design:

1. Keep the design simple

Your product should be immediately identified, and the number of objects in the creative should be minimized. Uncluttered, simple design tends to perform better. Internal Amazon Advertising research from 2019 showed that click-through rates (CTRs) were 2.4 times higher on average when creative had only one to four objects in the ad.1 Less is more!

2. Use contrast and size variation

Within the design composition, use a strong contrast between the foreground and the background so the product is easy to identify. Also, vary sizes of your objects. Another interesting insight from our internal research was that the CTR was 1.6 times higher on average when an ad had a primary object four times larger than the next biggest object featured. We also saw that 70% of categories on Amazon experienced greater CTRs when important items had a bigger font size.

3. Keep messages concise

Use a concise message to explain the value proposition of the product. Using fewer words in an ad can help create a clearer key message and increase the likelihood that it will generate a purchase. In addition, it’s important to break up text into lines of different lengths. Our research showed that, on average, CTR increased in 74% of our categories by taking this action.

1 Amazon Internal, 2019
2 Amazon Internal, 2019
3 Amazon, Internal, 2019
4 Amazon, Internal, 2019

Example Amazon Advertising display ad

An example of an effective creative ad that brings the key elements together is what Arlo, which makes internet-connected security cameras, did for its Arlo Pro 3 product.

Arlo Pro 3 display ad

Features:

  • The brand’s logo is clear and easy to distinguish.
  • The headline “Shine like a Pro” is aspirational, beginning with an active verb. The body copy is short and concise. It highlights the benefits of the product and helps customers make an informed decision.
  • The imagery gives us a sense of what we should expect when buying the product. We know its size, color, functions and that it’s compatible with other devices.
  • It features a “Shop now” CTA, making it easy for customers to quickly take action upon seeing the ad.

Experiment with display ads for best results

There are many questions that can be answered through experimentation with different creatives. Through A/B testing, you can offer two slight variants of the same display ad to see which one is more effective.

For example, you can test:

  • Headlines
  • Whether a product image outperforms a lifestyle image
  • Which background colors resonate best
  • The shape and messaging of the CTA button

When running experiments, make sure to:

  • Consider testing opportunities that are aligned with your campaign goal
  • Apply the above creative best practices
  • Implement insights from the experiment into your campaigns
  • Only alter one variable between your creatives. All other aspects of the test should be exactly the same between the treatments, in order to gather reliable results

For example, if you want to test two background colors to see which one performs better, you should make sure that only the background color changes. If you change background color and CTA button shape, you won’t be able to determine whether background color or CTA button shape impacted performance.

Maybelline ad with logo on black background
Maybelline ad with logo on white background

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is the process customers move through while engaging with your brand. The stages are awareness, consideration, preference, conversion, and purchase. At each phase of the customer journey, advertisers can deliver customer-centric creative experiences and insights to more efficiently help customers throughout the funnel.

Amazon Advertising offers many digital display ad products to help you achieve your goals, no matter where customers are in their journey.

Foundation

It’s important to note that before moving on to creative, you should ensure you have strong Store or Product Detail Page quality. Ensure that the destination page uses copy that informs and clearly describes products, as well as uses impactful, high-resolution images that inspire customers and tell your brand story.

Detail page quality

Detail page quality

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

Inventory health

Inventory health

Drive purchase

We recommend re-engaging audiences who already had a positive interaction with your brand. You can do this through a dynamic e-commerce ad (DEA). DEAs automatically optimize to serve the highest performing creative. There are two types on Amazon Advertising: custom dynamic e-commerce ads, which offer a custom creative format and either single- or multi-ASINs to rotate (up to 5); or our new responsive e-commerce ads, which are standard format and allow up to 20 different ASINs to rotate, offering even more opportunities across your portfolio. That means that not only is the ad dynamically rotating the CTA, it is also displaying the product and will automatically remove products from the rotation if they’re out of stock. The best part is that no creative assets are needed, as the image and product information pull directly form the product detail page.

Dynamic e-commerce ad

Stand out

The next step is what we refer to as “owning your aisle,” which means making sure you have a prominent place on the “digital shelf” that allows shoppers to connect to your brand. In this phase, you might want to consider dynamic e-commerce ads or static ads. If you’re using dynamic e-commerce ads―where review text can be shown in the ad― carefully consider which customer review is chosen to ensure the message aligns with your campaign.
Static ads offer creative flexibility to engage your audience as they are shopping on Amazon or browsing the web. They are a great introductory step into display advertising and are effective at introducing your brand or new products.

Static banner ad

Change perception

For consideration campaigns, customers are “in the aisle,” but are not considering your brand. Amazon Streaming TV ads can help your brand stay top of mind.
Streaming TV ads, also known as “over-the-top,” and refers to streaming video content over the internet. Streaming TV ads appear either before, during or after streaming TV content and are typically viewed until completion.
Fire tablet ads are another unique way to reach customers with a full-screen ad experience as soon as customers turn on the device. This display product is designed for brand storytelling and deeper product consideration.

Fire tablet

Build brand discovery

Keeping your brand and products front and center in customers’ minds is key in this phase. Use solutions like Streaming TV ads and compelling static ads that highlight new products and deliver simple brand promises.

OTT video

Learn more about Amazon DSP or connect with an Amazon Advertising account executive to see how we can help you achieve your goals.

Watch this clip from AdCon, our virtual advertising conference, to learn more about best practices to compelling campaign creatives from two of our Campaign and Creative Managers.