Creative Best Practices for Clickable Ads

Creative Best Practices for Clickable Ads

An ad is only as effective as the engagement it drives for your brand.

For marketers, that engagement is measured in clicks. Yes, impressions are valuable, but clicks get your visitors closer to the solution they want and marketers closer to driving advertising conversions. 

That’s why it’s so crucial to develop creative best practices for creating clickable ads.

When you optimize and personalize your ads for the target audience, you get closer to getting clicks and eventually advertising conversions. Moreover, you ensure you don’t waste valuable ad spend or frustrate audiences with irrelevant messaging.

This post will cover successful strategies for creating clickable ads that pique your users’ interests and move them down the marketing funnel.

Here’s how.

Pay attention to the technical requirements

First, let’s get technical.

Your ad should be properly formatted for each advertising platform, be it Google, Facebook, or publisher sites across the open web. The correct specifications help ensure that your ad will load and fit properly on each platform, so no opportunity to drive impressions or clicks goes to waste.

Facebook ads

Every Facebook format has a distinct advantage over the others when used in the right campaign. Facebook offers specific design recommendations for its in-feed image and video ads.

For instance, image ads should adhere to these criteria:

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels minimum
  • Headline length: 40 characters
  • Description length: 30 characters
  • File size: 30 MB maximum

Let’s look at Hulu’s image ad as an example: 

Hulu sponsored content

Meanwhile, Facebook video ads should follow these guidelines:

  • Format: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels minimum
  • Headline length: 40 characters
  • Description length: 30 characters
  • Captions: Optional but recommended
  • File size: 4GB

Google ads

Google’s display ad network supports a range of different ad types, including text, responsive, image, video, and product shopping ads:

Google ads format

According to the search giant, display image and text ads in these sizes perform the best on their network:

  • 300 x 250 (embedded within text or at the end of articles)
  • 336 x 290 (embedded within text or at the end of articles)
  • 728 x 90 (placed above the main page content)
  • 300 x 60 (placed vertically on the sidebar of a site)

Google image ads—both animated and non-animated—can be GIF, JPG, or PNG files at a maximum size of 150KB.

Native ads

For sponsored articles distributed across publisher sites, here are the recommended specs:

  • Image size: 1000 x 600 px minimum
  • Headline length: 34-45 characters, 60 maximum
  • Caption length: 30-character minimum

When choosing an image for your sponsored content, use these rules:

  • File size: 1 MB maximum
  • Image format: JPEG
  • Include people in your photo, ideally at a medium zoom from the shoulders up, or even closer.
  • Avoid image clutter by including a single center of focus.
  • Use eye-catching colors to attract people’s attention.
Native ads example

Adding a description to your native ad can also help you tell more of your story at a glance and include more information that entices people to click.

In that case, try employing these best practices when crafting your descriptive copy:

  • Use a maximum of 250 characters.
  • Include keywords that match what your customers are looking for.
  • Don’t be afraid to describe your products in superlative terms, like “remarkably comfortable.”
  • Bold your description and headline to stand out.

Add a click-worthy CTA button

Audiences shouldn’t have to guess why and where to click on your ad. Spell it out for them with a CTA button, which can appear right under the title on your ad unit.

Examples of some CTAs you can include are:

  • Download
  • Learn More
  • Read More
  • Shop Now
  • Get Offer
  • Sign Up
  • Try Now

Remember to align your CTA button with your campaign goals. For instance, “Learn More” and “Read More” are helpful for generating page views, whereas “Shop Now” and “Get Offer” make sense for driving purchases.

Take this Facebook ad for Guardian Direct as an example—it invites users to enroll in less than five minutes by clicking the CTA “Get Quote:” 

CTA button example

Test multiple creatives

A/B test your ad creatives to learn which images and copy your audience responds to best. For example, Facebook has a text optimization tool that allows advertisers to enter different copy options and test them against each other to find the most clickable ones.

Create multiple ad copy and headline variations and test which one drives more clicks. Then, continue running ads with that headline and copy and pull the others. With this strategy, you know your budget is only going toward the most engaging content.

Always optimize for mobile devices

Another valuable strategy is to target campaigns not only according to demographics, such as location and age but also according to device type.

For instance, if on-the-go millennials represent the bulk of your audience, you might target mobile and tablet users. 

Set user expectations

Getting customers to click on your ads is the first step to moving them along the marketing funnel. Once they click, you want to meet their expectations with a landing page that matches the content provided in your ad. In other words, don’t make empty promises.

For instance, if someone Googles “best sweatpants for men,” the top ad result should take the user directly to the sweatpants being promoted. This is what Mack Weldon does with their Google ad and corresponding post-click page:

Search results for sweatpants
Mack Weldon landing page

Use real-time creative trends

Data is the key to understanding which types of ad content readers want to see. Advertisers can use a wealth of information to unearth valuable creative trends and build more clickable campaigns.

Let’s look at some of those trends across channels.

Facebook ads

Facebook offers these recommendations to advertisers building content for their platform:

  • Add movement by incorporating GIFs, cinemagraphs, and Boomerangs into your ads.
  • Use automated captions for people who are browsing with the sound off.
  • Keep copy short since people scroll through their feeds quickly, giving you a brief amount of time to grab their attention and communicate your message.

Google ads

Google suggests these creative best practices for its display ads:

  • Keep the image edges squared—not rounded—and avoid adding unnecessary borders.
  • Use natural photos without bold filters or inverted colors.
  • Make your product front-and-center and don’t leave too much blank space.
  • Promote prices, deals, and exclusive offers in your ads, incentivizing people to click and convert.
  • Don’t overlay logos or graphics on top of images.
Google display ad best practices

Native ads

For U.S. advertisers launching native ads in October 2021, Taboola’s real-time data shows ads with photos that contain a person and do not display text are more likely to gain clicks on over illustrations, images without a subject, and images with text:

Native ads example 2

Meanwhile, videos with illustrations, in winter settings, in color, with no text, drive higher completion rates among these U.S. audiences.

Combining these creative best practices and insights, here’s what a group of click-worthy ads might look like:

Combination of native ads

Entice audiences to click on your ads

While views are valuable, clicks are ultimately what entice customers to move along the marketing funnel and convert. That’s why it’s so crucial to use data-backed best practices to ensure every ad you create is click-worthy. So, whether you’re reaching audiences on social media or across publisher websites, you can maximize your ad spend and hook people in from the first impression.

Amanda Lederman
by Amanda Lederman

Amanda Lederman is the content marketing manager at Taboola. She's an expert in all things digital and community-driven. Amanda is a full-fledged Jersey Girl, who only moved out of state to go across the river (briefly) and now lives in Jersey City with her boyfriend, her dog, Otis, and one nameless fish.

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