Display advertising plays a major part in pushing customers down the sales funnel and eventually leading them to purchase your product or service. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your display ads are memorable and effective so that visitors are more likely to click your ad, or even search for your business later. Unlike search ads, display ads feature carefully designed text, fonts, colour, pictures, graphics, and even animation. Although display ads tend to get a lower direct click through rate then search ads, raising brand awareness and remarketing to past visitors can increase the likeliness of a sale further down the road.

The online ads themselves, ad placement, ad sizes and formats, and ad colors each play important roles in CTR (click-through rate) and earnings for publishers and advertisers. To maximize earnings for these ads, publishers need to optimize ads, part of which is choosing the best ad sizes and locations for their pages, along with choosing effective colors. You would obviously want to know the most effective banner sizes to generate clicks, impressions and ultimately conversions in the form of sales, if you are spending any amount of budget on marketing display advertising. In order to design the right banner sizes it’s important to understand what ad inventory is available. Publishers choose the banner ad sizes they want to feature on their websites. If you pick the wrong banner sizes as an advertiser, you effectively limit the reach of your ad campaigns.

To begin with, ad size is very important, it has a direct impact on your campaign and its performance. Going with less popular sizes in your campaign will result in a lower number of impressions and consequently lower performance. If you want to get a fair number of impressions, it is recommended that you go with popular ad sizes. Most websites feature ad placements for 300×250, 728×90 and 160×600 ad units. Those, along with 180×150 are included in the universal ad package, a standard set by the IAB.

Knowing banner ad sizes, as shown above, is one thing. But which ad sizes give the best results, the highest CTR, the most earnings, and where should they be placed for optimal results? While there’s no single answer that fits every single Web page or even pages within the same Web site, there are general guidelines and studies that show tendencies that can be used as a starting point for consideration. Here are the most important banner sizes on the Google Adwords display network:

Ad size Name Where it’s featured Supply
300×250 Medium Rectangle Embedded within or at the end of articles Good inventory
336×280 Large Rectangle Embedded within or at the end of articles Good inventory
728×90 Leaderboard Placed on top or in inserted in an article Good inventory
300×600 Half Page Featured in the right or left hand side Growing inventory
468×60 Banner Featured in small spaces inside or on the left in articles Limited, declining inventory
234×60 Half Banner Featured in small spaces inside or on the left in articles Limited, declining inventory
120×600 Skyscraper Featured in websites sidebars Limited inventory
160×600 Wide Skyscraper Featured in websites sidebars Good inventory
970×90 Wide Skyscraper Top of website pages Limited inventory
200×200 Small Square Usually featured in the right hand sidebar Limited inventory
250×250 Square Usually featured in the right hand sidebar Limited inventory

As a thumb rule, wider ad sizes tend to outperform their taller counterparts, due to their reader-friendly format. Readers absorb information in “thought units,” several words at a time. Wider sizes let them comfortably read more text at a glance without having to skip a line and return to the left margin every few words, as they’d have to with a narrower ad. If positioned well, wide ad sizes can increase your earnings significantly. The sizes we’ve found to be the most effective are the 336×280 large rectangle, the 300×250 medium rectangle, the 728×90 leaderboard, the 300×600 half page, and on mobile the 320×100 large mobile banner. Keep in mind that while these ad sizes typically perform well, you should use the size that best complements your pages.

Generally speaking, ads toward the centre of the page, above the fold, and blend in with the page tend to perform the best right now. The larger ad sizes or formats, especially the large rectangle (336×280) and the leaderboard (728×90) also tend to perform the best at this point. In other words, these tend to be the best paying ad sizes, formats, locations, and colors. While all the stats do indeed show trends, and it’s helpful and important to research all this before implementing ads at your own site, it’s so important to evaluate your own site’s specific needs to determine the best ad sizes, formats, placements, and colours. These general trends might or might not be the best performers for your own site and visitors. In addition, it can often take a bit of experimenting, and you might need to make changes from time to time to avoid banner blindness, to help improve CTR and to see which combination is the best paying ad, or for further optimization. Whether you want to attract new customers or bring the lost ones back with re-targeting, display ads are a very efficient way to advertise.

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