There are many different ways to reach your target audience with Google ads and one way that can work well is using the Google display network. Whether you are targeting people using remarketing code, contextually relevant keywords or in-market audiences etc., banner ads are the most eye-catching way to get your brand, and message, in front of your audience. They’re so much stronger visually  than text ads.

Here’s my guide to Google display ads including which sizes could be most important for your campaigns.

Image ad formats

Google display ads are graphical ads (file size 150KB or smaller), available in both animated and non-animated formats. (HTML5 ads are also now accepted, but flash ads are not.)

Available file types are:

google image ad formats
When creating animated ads the animation length must be 30 seconds or less, which means that animations can be looped, but they must stop after 30 seconds. Also ads must be slower than 5 frames-per-second (FPS).

There are many image ad sizes available and the more sizes you create, the more chance you have of receiving impressions, so it’s good practise to have at least 3 or 4 of the available sizes, if not more.

Image Ad Approval

As with text ads there are rules to follow when it comes to creating ads, and they can take a little longer to get approved because of this, for detailed information visit: https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/176108?hl=en-GB

The main rules to adhere to are:

  • The graphical layout of your ads must fill the entire space of the image ad, and they can’t appear sideways or upside down.
  • Image ads must be relevant to the advertised site or app. Ad images must be clear and recognisable, with legible text. Unclear, blurry or unrecognisable images are not allowed to be used in ads.
  • Strobing and flashing – you are not allowed to use distracting ads.
  • Mimicking site content, news articles or text ads is also not allowed.
  • Image ads and the content that they point to must be “family safe“.

What sizes work best and are worth investing time into creating?

Firstly, Google itself recommends the following as most important:

rec-disp-ads

In my personal experience I’ve seen the most important sizes for impressions being; 300×250 and 728×90. These ad sizes were also popular in terms of top ads for clicks, along with; 160×600, 320×50, 336×280 and 120×600.

In terms of conversion and conversion rate, 300×250 is high on the list for a lot of the accounts that I analysed, followed by 728×90. Others that appeared were; 336×280, 320×50, 160×600, 300×600, 200×200, 468×60.

This shows that Google’s recommendations are correct, the best ads are:

  • 300×250
  • 728×90
  • 336×280
  • 300×600

But I’d also consider:

  • 320×50 (instead of the 320×100 as Google suggests)
  • 160×600
  • 200×200
  • 468×60

Benchmarking performance

Google also has its own display benchmarks tool that I looked at for the UK, and it says that the expected CTR in the UK for an image ad is 0.05%:

google display benchmarking

We analysed over 2,630 image ads across 27 accounts (majority of which were UK, but not all) and the average CTR was 0.2%. The average conversion rate was 1.2%.

How to create banner ads

Banner ads can be created in a manner of ways, but I’d recommend asking a designer, whether in-house or from an agency, to create them using a program like Photoshop.

If you don’t have that luxury, Google does provide tools to help advertisers create banners;

Image ads builder

image-ad-builder

The ad gallery

ad-gallery-create-google-display-adsNeither are great to be honest, the designs are very simple, and the customisation is very limited, so if you have strong brand guidelines when it comes to fonts etc. then these tools aren’t really that useful.

Both allow advertisers to upload photos and logos etc to create a single ad design that is responsive, so can appear in the following ad formats; 120×600, 160×600, 300×600, 336×280, 300×250, 320×50, 468×60 and 970×90.

“Responsive ads are dynamic and can fill most ad sizes.
What this means: You do not need to select ad sizes anymore when creating image ads in AdWords.
Keep in mind: After you save this ad, there will be only one item in the table.”
– Via Google AdWords

We trialled these tools to see if the number of impressions varied for the different ads; image ads builder, ad gallery and uploaded 250×250 ad and the percentage served for the ads in the ad group was as follows:

  • Image ads builder ad = 56%
  • Ad gallery ad = 38 %
  • Uploaded 250×250 ad = 6%

So ads created with Google’s tools get more impressions than a single sized, uploaded image ad, as they appear in several sizes (listed above), but you cannot see which sizes are being shown nor which are performing best.

Conclusion

  1. Create image ads in as many sizes as possible, but focus on the following if you can’t create them all:
    • 300×250
    • 728×90
    • 336×280
    • 320×50
    • 160×600
    • 300×600
    • 200×200
    • 468×60
  2. If you don’t have a designer on hand to create banners, Google does have tools available within AdWords to help you easily create some, but the designs are limited.
  3. Ensure that you adhere to the guidelines to get your ads approved as quickly as possible.

Also published on Medium.