I just posted at the Blog Herald about how to design a great ad. I’d like to follow that up here with some further comments and examples for inspiration as we consider how to maximize the relatively small number of pixels and small share of a reader’s attention many blog ads receive. I’d like to focus on the 125px ad, since I find that size the most difficult to design given the shape and size, and the fact that these ads are very popular with bloggers right now.

Make them want to click

When designing any advertisement, one should remember standard advertising principles. One of the main things is to give your readers a reason to click or a “call to action”. For most sites just the name of the site with a picture will not be compelling enough.

Neat illustration, but no compelling reason for me to click. If was into drums… maybe, but I’d be disappointed, because the site is actually about blogging:

This one gives me a reason to click. I’m curious, I want to find out how I can save that kind of money on hosting:

Stand out from the crowd

So many of these ads look so similar. Same colors, same look, same shape…. boring. If you’re considering buying ad space on a site, check out the competition. Choose some unusual color or shape.

This ad looks just like every other ad you always see. It’s blue and black and boring:

Here are some ads that play with shape to stand out. The Cold Fusion ad uses color nicely as well- really pops out at you:

Be judicious with the use of animation

Some animation can be effective, but too much or too long is bad news. You’ll either annoy the reader or they’ll miss half your message. You only get like a nanosecond of a blog reader’s attention. Building in too many steps to your ad is a waste, and an ad that is too blinky is just annoying.

This ad uses one too many frames and the timing is off. I was curious until I had to wait 5 seconds to see what the next frame was. (The use of a sketched look is great though!):

Amazon does it right. Just enough animation to draw the eye, along with a simple message and a call to action:

Don’t get too wordy

I’ll never read more than a couple of lines on an ad, and especially if it’s a 125px ad, there’s just not room for that much text before it gets too small to be quickly legible. Don’t forget about using whitespace- even in a small ad.

Just terrible. Too much text and impossible to read in a glance:

The ad for PMetrics is just right: easy to read in one short glance:

If you want to see lots of ugly, blinky ads, you can check out the Banner Report site. There are some gems among all the bad ones though.

What do you think? Do you even see ads on blogs anymore? What causes you to click on an ad?