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Tips for Designing Great Google Display Ads

October 3, 2023
min read

According to Google, Google Display Ads appear on 3 million+ websites, over half a million apps, and just about everywhere on the internet, including powerhouse platforms like Gmail and YouTube.

So, if you’re wanting to harness the power of Google Display Ads, then you have good reason!

But designing an ad is a bit more complicated than just slapping on images and taglines. There’s a bit of finesse involved.

And if you want your ads to stand out — to really stand out amongst the buzz of digital noise that surrounds your potential customers every hour of every day, then they’ve got to hit the mark.

The question is: How do you make display ads that hit the mark instead of ones that get swallowed up by the noise?

Today’s blog aims to show you how!

Whether you’re a seasoned display advertiser looking to refine your strategies or a newbie just jumping into the world of online advertising, this blog is going to be your guide on creating visually stunning and high-performing display ads that help you drive engagement and meet your marketing goals!

What are Google Display Ads?

Display ads, or banner ads, are the often rectangular ads you see on the top, side, or bottom of a website.

You see them online, on social media, or on mobile apps, and they’re designed to drive traffic to the advertiser’s website by enticing a curious user to stop what they were doing and click.

Google display ads are display ads that appear on websites, apps, or other platforms within the Google Display Network (GDN)

As we mentioned earlier, the GDN is a vast network of websites, including the most popular news sites, blogs, and more, as well as mobile apps that give marketers a huge audience to showcase and promote their products and services.

What’s the Difference Between Search Ads and Display Ads?

Many people often confuse display ads with search ads, and it’s understandable. These two ad types look similar but vary in some key aspects like:

  • Placement: Search ads appear on search engine results while display ads appear on web pages and mobile apps.
  • Intent: Search ads target users through specific keywords or phrases while display ads aim to capture attention and generate some brand awareness.
  • Format: Display ads tend to be more varied and can include static images, animation, videos, and other interactive media, while search ads typically consist of headers, descriptions, and clickable links.
  • Cost: Advertisers usually use a pay-per-click (PPC) structure with their cost per click depending on their bid strategy. On the other hand, display ads often use pricing structures like cost per thousand impressions (CPM), cost per click (CPC), or cost per acquisition (CPA), depending on the campaign goals and network.

Tips for Designing Great Google Display Ads

Tips for great Google display ads.

Now that you’ve got a better grasp of what Google Display ads are and how they can be harnessed to market your brand, here is a list of our best tips to help you create irresistible ads that stop the scrolling and command clicks!

1. Make Your Colors Count

Colors are very often one of the first things people notice in an ad, so make those colors count!

Of course, you’ll want to stick to your brand guide, but using eye-catching and well-coordinated colors can go a long way toward making your ad nice to look at and increase the odds that your viewers will stop scrolling long enough to take notice.

The trick is in the contrast. Use a simple color palette with just a few colors to avoid overwhelming your viewers, and strategically apply color contrast to make the key elements like CTA buttons or headers stand out.

And don’t forget what kind of power the right colors can yield! Remember color psychology and use it to your benefit to invoke the right emotions in your viewers and nudge them to click. Here are some examples of color psychology you can tap into:

  • Blue — Incorporating blue in your design can instill a sense of trust and professionalism. It's a color that resonates with reliability and credibility.
  • Green — Green is often associated with nature and healthcare, making it ideal for conveying positivity, well-being, and a sense of freshness in your ads. 
  • Black — Black represents sophistication, power, and importance. Use it and give your ads an air of elegance and exclusivity. 
  • Red — Red can be a powerful tool to create excitement and urgency in your ads, especially when highlighting a promotion or limited-time offer!
  • Yellow — They call it mellow yellow. The color yellow just radiates optimism, happiness, and warmth. Using it in your ads can give them a cheerful and inviting vibe.
  • Orange — Much like yellow, orange can also convey optimism. Use it in your design to draw attention to your CTAs or to add a touch of friendliness to your design.

2. Keep it Simple

We’ve all seen busy, over-cluttered ads and, unfortunately for their creators, that desperate kind of messiness practically screams “SCAM!”

So, to avoid looking like an ad that’s going to fill your target audience’s computer with malware, you want to have a clean, professional, and simple design.

Don’t over-clutter things. Aim for about 20% white space and be sure your design is clean and easy to see, with a clear focal point and simple, easy-to-read copy.

Your display ad should ideally consist of the following:

  • Product or service photo
  • Logo
  • Headline
  • CTA

It’s best that you don’t overlay your text either. Google doesn’t like it, and, to their point, it could make your copy hard to read. Instead, make the text a part of the image and that should keep your ad from getting flagged.

3. Copy That

And while we’re on the subject of keeping your design simple, your copy needs to be straight and to the point as well.

We recommend punchy, engaging headers that pique interest and slow the scroll.

Use interesting headers and experiment with ways to say more with less. This is especially helpful so that you can use the same copy for even the smallest banner sizes instead of having to have several different versions of your text to accommodate the lack of space.

It also will keep everything easy to read for your mobile viewers, which they will surely appreciate when they see your ads while scrolling through their smartphones.

For the best-designed ads, we always recommend that copy and design work hand in hand. Your copy can even inspire your design, resulting in an even more engaging approach for your viewers!

4. Irresistible Calls to Action

Your call to action just might be the most important part of your ad.

It’s the part you want your market audience to see and click to visit your website, check out your products, take advantage of a promotion, and more.

So, it’s got to be irresistible, and it’s got to stand out. You can use contrasting colors or exciting reds and oranges to achieve this, but your CTA must be simple, easy to see, and entice your users to click.

Stuck on how to create an irresistible CTA? We got you. Just check out this blog.

5. An Ad for All Seasons

Use seasonal ads to connect with your audience

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … no matter what time of year it is.

Creating seasonal ads helps your ads stay relevant and helps you better connect with your audience. People just like seasonal ads. And why not?


Seasonal ads are capable of tapping into the emotions associated with a particular time of year, like the joy of the holidays, the coziness of fall, the fun-in-the-sun of summer, and the romance of Valentine’s Day.

This makes them a highly effective tool for enticing clicks and engagements, especially when combined with seasonal promotions and limited time offers. As we all know, seasonal means it won’t last long, so the sense of urgency is already built in for you.

6. Quality Images

You want your ads to look as clean and professional as possible so be sure to use good, high-quality images that are in focus, in full-color, easy to see, and have no borders.

Shoot for images of your product or service so viewers aren’t confused by what they’re looking at and make them the main focal point of your ad.

Your logo should also be featured prominently in your ad, but sure it’s part of the visual and not overlaid to avoid getting flagged by the Google Display Network. 

And while you’re creating your images, be sure that their size complies with Google’s standards. Below, you’ll find a handy dandy image size guide to make sure your ads are in compliance.

Image Size Guide

  • Landscape image (1.91:1)
  • Recommended size: 1200 x 628
  • Minimum size: 600 x 314
  • Square (1:1)
  • Recommended size: 1200 x 1200
  • Minimum size: 300 x 300
  • Portrait (9:16)
  • Recommended size: 900 x 1600
  • Minimum size: 600 x 1067

While you’re at it, you’ll want to give yourself some options and use multiple formats when creating your ads. According to Google, the top-performing ad sizes are: 

  • Large rectangle - 336 x 280
  • Inline rectangle - 300 x 280
  • Half Page - 300 x 600
  • Large Mobile: 320 x 100 
  • Leaderboard: 728 x 90

And that brings us to …

Responsive Displays

In addition to ensuring your image quality and size compliance, consider using Google’s responsive display ads. These ad formats use machine learning to optimize content and automatically adjust their appearance to fit whatever ad space and device your user is looking at.

By using responsive display ads, you can expand your reach and be sure that your ads are looking as sharp as intended no matter what device your viewer is seeing them on.

Show Your Value

Most people don’t look at ads for very long, so you don’t have much time to sway them.

Because of this, make sure the value in your ad is presented immediately and easy to see.

It’s up to you how to do it, but remember, people aren’t going to look for long, so hook them with headers like, “Free shipping!” “Buy one Get one!” “25% off Yellow Blobs” or “Free trial included!”

Whatever value your brand is offering, make sure it’s front and center and not at the end of a block of copy.

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Looking for Some Guidance?

Google Display Ads take some work, but if you can put in the time to design effective and visually appealing ads, then it could be instrumental in driving traffic to your website and getting better ROI on your campaigns.

But if you don’t have the time …

Did you know that Designity is made up of the top 3% of US-based creative talent, including graphic designers, copywriters, Google ad experts, and all the talent you’ll ever need to create effective and clickable display ads?

Partnering with Designity gives you access to all of that amazing talent listed above along with a seasoned Creative Director who will handle everything for you, from sourcing the right creative talent to helping you hone your marketing strategies.

All while you continue to do your job.

So, if you’re looking for the right guide to help you create winning ads and enjoy a successful Google Display campaign, then you’re in the right place.

Check out our social media and digital ads page along with our google display ads services to see what we were able to do for companies just like yours!

How do you design your display ads for success?

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About the author:
Sara Lopez
Sara is a Texas-based copywriter.
Interested in content collaboration? Email at
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