How to do a banner ad – PART 1
I’ve foolishly decided to kick off my digital how-to guides with one of the hardest topics. And it’s taken me a lot longer to write than I was hoping – especially since my Mac passed away in the middle of writing it. It also ended up a bit longer than I was expecting, so I’ve split it into three easily digestible parts – approaching the brief, coming up with ideas and creative techniques. So without any further ado, here’s part one of my guide on how to do banner ads.
I’m assuming that you’re some sort of creative here. I’m assuming that you’ve just come up with a campaign and want to do some banners for it. Or that you’ve been asked to do the banners for someone else’s campaign. This guide is designed for people who are pretty new to do doing banners but hopefully there’s something in here for everyone. However, don’t hang around if you’ve been doing it for years and it feels like I’m telling you how to suck eggs.
Read the brief. Read the brief again.
Like any conceptual job, you need to know what you’re being asked to do. But with digital there are some slightly different questions you need the answers to. Here’s what they are and how they’ll affect you:
What banner sizes are you working with?
I think we can all safely agree that most banner sizes are awful. Your main ones are either long and skinny or skinny and long. But that’s just the way it is so there’s no point complaining about it. Start like you would with any other ad – draw out the dimensions and turn them into storyboards to put your idea into – or you could just download some that I’ve made earlier.
Where are the ads running?
Painful as it is to admit, people aren’t visiting these pages to look at your masterpiece. It’s good to understand what your audience is actually there to see so that you can have an idea of the mindset they’ll be in when they see your banner – as well as get an awareness of the other distractions you have to compete with on the page.
What file size do you have to work with?
Most of the time you’ll be working with standard ads. That means you’ve probably got up to 40k to work with. If you ever owned a ZX Spectrum in the 80s, you might think that’s loads – but let me tell you that in today’s digital world it’s bugger all. It won’t buy you much photographic imagery. And don’t even consider film. But you can do a hell of a lot with Flash in that size. You can do a lot more if you’ve got ‘rich media’ but I’ll talk about that later.
What are the mandatories?
It’s good to know what stuff you have to include in the banner. How big does the logo have to be? Is there a background image you need to use? All these things can have a huge impact on the filesize. They may not leave you with much to play with.
Where is the banner leading?
In other words, what do we want people to do when they see the banner? Just look at it and get the brand message? Click through to a product information page? Sign up to something? Download something? The banner is just the start of a journey and you need to know where it’s leading so that your message makes sense in context.
What’s the timing and budget?
It takes time to get animation right. And that obviously has an impact on the budget too. Ask the people who know about techy stuff how much you can get for your production budget and what that will and won’t allow. If you know you’re working to some pretty tight restrictions, make sure you keep your ideas within them. There’s nothing worse than coming up with a great idea, getting a client to buy it and then finding that you can’t do it justice – or maybe can’t do it at all.
I’m sure there’s some more points that I’ve missed. Please tell me if you think anything else should be included or if you think I’m talking out my trousers.