Why Your Display Ads Suck

AVID Ad Server is conducting a 4-part mini course on how to become an advertising master with AVID. These lessons come from over 50 billion impressions run by media buyers just like you. In part 1, we’re going to be talking about why your display ads suck.

In this first lesson, we’ll teach you the biggest mistakes to avoid when running ads on display, and what to do INSTEAD to increase CTR and ROI almost instantly.

The biggest mistake you should avoid is RUNNING STATIC IMAGE ADS. Now, what do we mean by static image ads? It’s when you’re using an image – whether it’s a JPEG or GIF as your ad creative, and uploading it to your ad server or DSP, or through ad exchanges, or even direct to a publisher.

A lot of advertisers will use an image that looks like this:

But what happens if you want to swap out the image or try a different text? You have to open the image in an image editor, then change the image and change the text, then save the new image, and upload it as a new ad to your traffic source. All of this takes time.

So what should you be doing instead? From all of the split tests, billions of impressions run, and thousands of clicks and conversions, we have seen that adding just a little bit of rich media to your ad will increase your CTR and conversions on average anywhere from 100 to 300%.


And rich media doesn’t have to be HTML5 ads or applets embedded into an ad. It can be as simple as adding hover over effects when the user’s mouse passes over the ad.

So what do we mean by that? Let’s compare a static image ad side-by-side with an HTML ad:


They look identical at first glance, but once you start interacting with each ad, there are a few differences. If we hover over the static image ad, nothing changes. It is what it is. Nothing on this ad is going to change because it’s only an image, with no sort of HTML coding. Now when we hover over the HTML ad, the image changes opacity, an underline feature appears under the title, and the background turns light gray. These effects are easy to code into an ad server and while they seem like tiny effects, they have a huge impact on CTR and conversion rate.

So – the bottom line is STOP using static image ads.

The great part is, these HTML ads are actually very simple to set up.

This is our rich media set up in AVID:

With a few clicks, we can change the text on the Title or Description, or upload a new image. Another thing you’ll notice with our title, is that we’re using a city macro that’s piping in the city of the user, based on their IP address. This small feature just gave us thousands of versions of the same ad. Within AVID, we can also get a report on impressions, clicks, and conversions by city. We can see if there are any cities that have statistically more conversions, and focus more of our ad spend on those cities. Split testing has never been easier!

Stay tuned for our next lesson in the series on how to use these native ad styles to set up an exit intent pop up on your landing page.