Welcome to the first installment of our Fall series, “Designing Successful Digital Ads”. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen more than our fair share of digital ads — both good and bad. So, we decided to put together some tips to help you get the most out of your digital campaigns. First up, how to design impactful display ads!

Designing digital display ads may look easy, but there are a number of challenges that come with designing for maximum impact on such a small canvas.

How can you visually display something you want to say verbally–but with minimal words?

First: Focus on your goal. The key to creating a successful interaction with your audience in something as small as 1500 square pixels is to make sure you know EXACTLY what you are trying to achieve with this ad campaign. Is it name identification? Is it trying to connect yourself in the voters’ minds with a particular issue?

Once you have your goal in mind, be ruthless about keeping anything else out of the ad. Don’t let anything distract your audience from the one thing you want them to absorb from your creative.

Second: It’s all about the visuals. A good graphic or photograph will enhance your message. Show the viewer what you’re about. Viewers should be able to understand who you are and what you stand for from the image. Using a face in your ad — even if it’s not the candidate — will draw the target’s eye.

Viewers can’t engage with your content if it doesn’t catch their eye.

An underutilized option for catching users’ eyes is to animate the ad. It doesn’t have to be extensive, even just moving or highlighting text or having the images change slightly is very helpful in attracting your audiences’ attention.

Third: Copy is important, too. Use precise words to convey your message, and try to use as little text as possible. Play with typography. Let a bolder font emphasize key words. Play with sizing and contrast. Let a main point, (i.e. healthcare) be slightly larger on the ad to draw attention. Also, light animation or effects can help pull your target’s eye to the ad.

Fourth: Consistency is key. In general, your positive ads should keep branding the same across the board. Keep to your visual standards for fonts and colors. This will help ensure that you are providing a consistent message across all of your ad campaigns and various creatives.

However, the exception to this rule is when you’re making a strong attack ad. In this case, to avoid blowback, it helps to use a completely different look and feel so the casual user will absorb the information, but be less likely to blame your candidate or organization.

Fundamentally, always think about the advertising experience from the perspective of your intended audience. That’s just good politics.

Have thoughts or questions? We’d love to talk more about it. Just get in touch with your client contact, or drop us a line on twitter at @DSPolitical.

Next up will be Part 2: Digital Video — Stay tuned!