Guidelines for Copywriters

After much trial, error, and testing (and blood, sweat and tears) we’ve developed some Best Practices for Creatives that will give your banners a better chance of performing well. While these guidelines apply to both copywriters and designers, we’ve tailored these pointers just for you copywriters.

1.  Keep the headline short. Real short. As in “25 characters or fewer” short. While there can be a few exceptions, the shorter ones usually perform much better. Remember, banner ads are not full page magazine ads.

2.  Use body copy sparingly—if at all. Heck, you’ll be lucky if the user finishes the headline. Use a short subhead if absolutely necessary. Sometimes whatever else needs to be said can simply be put inside the button

3.  Take advantage of the medium. Often copywriters will execute a banner ad like it’s a print ad, only with a flashing button.
Yet, imagine all the cool things you can do on an ad banner that you can’t do in print, or TV or radio for that matter.  Think about what animation organically makes sense with your concept and headline. And then feel free to involve your audience by having them do anything from smacking a virtual pinata to launching a rocket into space. (e.g. ‘Compare rates’, ‘view trailer’, ‘apply now’, etc.) And remember—unlike TV—special effects don’t cost extra.

4.  Think cocktail napkin. Remember, a strong concept can be sketched out on a cocktail napkin so that anyone could look at it and say “oh cool, I get it!” Even in a dark bar. With beer spilled on it.

5.  Think Mom. Would your mother get this idea right away? Without you having to explain it? Your ad should be simple and clear. (And, of course, not gross or embarrassing. Mom should be 100% comfortable seeing it. And showing it off to her friends.)

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