How to design effective banner creative for affiliates

In an overcrowded market where everyone has the power to create and display their banners, it’s really difficult for marketers to get an edge – for your message to be the one that catches an audience’s eye and makes them click (and hopefully eventually become loyal customers).

In such a chaotic world, even if you can get your display banner in front of potential customers, they are excelling more and more at unconsciously ignoring your messages. “Banner blindness” is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information, which can also be called ad blindness or banner noise.

Banner Blindness adds up to fewer leads or sale for advertisers and lower revenue for affiliates, but that doesn’t mean pushing more ads is going to get a better response.
To beat “Banner blindness”, the banners you create need to be targeted, cleverly written, attention grabbing and more importantly aligned to the potential customers’ needs/wants in order to maintain your edge. Not an easy task to be sure.

What makes an effect banner ad suite for the affiliate channel?

Does it simply need to attention grabbing or should they seek to drive action? The affiliate channel (unlike display) is performance based, so it makes sense that the more actionable the banner creative is, the better for both publishers and advertisers alike.

Being based on mainly CPA or CPL payment models advertisers should arm their publishers with banner campaigns that aren’t impression / branding focused (CPM).

So why an action over an impression?

An impression is something you see, a billboard, banner, or a facebook ad. Potential customers may see it for a split second and are unlikely to give it a second thought unless it’s very good. An action is measurable, it has a clear mechanic that allows the potential customers to interact with your brand.

But what then? What should the viewer do next?

What have you asked them to do next is the more appropriate question. Have you asked them to sign up, enter a competition, redeem a voucher, donate to a worthy cause or a host of other actions?

Creating campaigns that drive actions isn’t purely about measuring an action or grabbing someone’s attention for a few seconds, although both a certainly important. It’s about executing on ideas that your target audience can participate with.

As we touched on above, effect design centres three key principles: Motivation, Ability and Triggers.
If you are missing one of these behaviours, the action you want to encourage will not occur.

  • Motivation: a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  • Ability: possession of the means or skill to do something.
  • Emotional Triggers / Call to actions: an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response.

There are many emotional triggers (Fear, Guilt, Trust, Value, Belonging, Competition, Instant Gratification, Leadership, Trend-setting, Time) that you can use to evoke feelings among your target audience and move them to action through your marketing messages.

How to pull this all together.

As we have seen above, the banners or display ads you provide to your affiliates should not be something that is overlooked or given undue consideration. I’ve seen many affiliates who “roll their own” creative units, which are typically customized to be relevant to their content, making the advertising targeted to the user’s specific task at that moment.

Having a clear understanding of who you are targeting, what action you would like them to perform and what your end goal is key to effective banner creative.

Before you summon the creative team, ask yourself the following:

  •  Do you have a special event approaching (a spring sale or a major shopping period like Christmas)?
  •  What are you top selling products?
  •  Who is my target audience and what are they interested in?
  •  What goal are you trying to fulfil (newsletter signups, social interactions, sales of a particular product / category)?
  •  What need or problem does my product or service address?
  •  What is the viewer’s current intent?
  •  Is the message going to be relevant to the viewer?
  •  What is your data telling you about your customer personas?

Combining a better user experience, with all of the strong data advertiser have on hand, will allow for a better solution for all parties involved and allow the channel to move away from the creative executions that are repurposed from other media, namely TV and print.

So before you create affiliate banners that scream “Buy Me Now”, design them around the users intent and needs to encourage users to engage and ultimately progress down the purchase funnel.