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Home > Ads > Creating Ads > A Guide To Display Ad Creation

A Guide To Display Ad Creation

If you’re new to display ad creation or you just need a refresher, this guide should help.  Most of these tips apply to display ads for the web.  Facebook ad guidelines are here.

This is a supplement to the Web/Display ad guidelines found here and the Advertiser Quality Guidelines found here

Use Multiple Ad Sizes

SharpSpring Ads will accept campaigns that only use one ad size, but we strongly recommend against this practice.  When our system comes across a chance to win you an impression, that impression is a specific size. If the site has a spot for a 160x600 and your campaign doesn’t have one, that’s an impression you should have had.

More sizes = more impressions and more chances for conversions.

Use one or two ads per size, per campaign.  Some advertisers make the mistake of using 6 or 7 variations of their 300x250.  You’re spreading yourself too thin if you do that.  If you want your ads to serve on mobile devices in the United States, be sure to use these sizes: 320x50 for mobile banner ads, 320x480 and 480x320 for interstitials.

Distinct Color Scheme and Design

Sometimes advertisers try to look different in their ads than they do in the rest of their online presence – don’t make this mistake.  Make sure your ads look and feel like your website. What kind of images, colors and fonts are used there, and what’s the overall feel?  This helps your viewer make the mental connection to what they’ve already seen and is incredibly strong for branding.

This is the time to:

  • keep it pithy
  • show human faces (but not stock photos we’ve all seen a million times)
  • avoid charts and graphs


This may seem obvious, but make sure your logo appears on your ad for uniformity in your branding and because the networks require it.  Your logo need not be the most prominent element - your compelling offer and your call to action should be. Resist the temptation to ‘make the logo bigger.’

Landing Page Optimization

When your viewers arrive at your landing page, give yourself every chance to convert them by using these guidelines.

Short and Sweet

Your ad has less than two seconds to get someone’s attention.  Your viewers are exposed to hundreds of ads a day from billboards to TV commercials to their social media timelines.  Don’t overload your ad with text or try to list all the amazing features of your product. Keep it simple.

Create a Compelling Call to Action

Something like “Buy Now” may or may not be the right message for your call-to-action button.  We recommend using a call-to-action button when you can. Some advertisers choose “Learn More” or “Find Your Solution,” or “Explore Here.”  You can create urgency - a key component of any sales message - with a call to action like “Sale Ends Soon,” “Tickets Going Fast,” “Don’t Miss Out,” or whatever makes sense for your business.

Keep It Fresh

We’ve seen ads for Valentine’s Day offers still running after St. Patrick’s Day!  Don’t do this. A creative refresh is important for short-term offers, anything seasonal, and as a best practice to make sure your message isn’t lost due to oversaturation.

Ad fatigue is a real thing.  It’s always a good idea to swap out creatives every couple of months to keep your message from growing stale.  If you depend on repeat business this is even more important.



Take a look at these sample ads we made for Perfect Audience.  On the left you’ll see the logo takes up too much space, there’s a lot of text and there’s no clear call to action or button.  The background is also a mismatch for the color/design of the website and landing page.

The middle ad makes some improvements (smaller logo, colors more related to the destination) but still has a font mismatch and uses a stock photo that’s probably been used in a thousand other places.  It’s OK but we can do better.

On the right side, we’ve got an image from the website itself (great for connecting the ad to the landing page in the viewer’s mind), a short-and-sweet tagline, and a better call to action that personalizes the experience just a bit (“My” free trial, not just any free trial)