5 minutes read

If you’re thinking of running an advertising campaign and you don’t know where or how to start, you’ve come to the right place. Probably one of the biggest challenges when you want to start a campaign are the creatives: how should your banner ads look like? More importantly: what copy should go on the banner?

Coming up with what to say is the hardest part whenever you’re creating something. Banner ads are no exception. Don’t let size mislead you. Though small, that 728×90, 160×600 or 300×250 banner ad holds one of the keys to your online advertising campaign’s success.

It would be great if you had a copywriter on call 24/7 so he or she would come up and lend a hand whenever you need help. But, as we all know it, the 1-800-COPYWRITER-NEEDED still needs to be invented.

One of the most important elements in the banner ad is the value proposition: what you’re offering your customers and the words you’re using to “dress” up your offer. A good value proposition attracts your users’ attention, it gives people an incentive to click and it gets them on the path to conversion.

Still – don’t despair. You don’t need to be a professional copywriter to craft the copy for a banner ad that converts well. And we’re going to show you how. We built a framework using 4 steps to help you make your banner and identify the most important elements for the value proposition in your banner ad copy.

Take a few moments, answer the questions and combine them carefully. Look for a quiet place, the best ideas come when you have the time and the space to focus on them. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Step 1: Write what are you selling?

write your product

This is the question you need to start with. Think of it this way: the people who will see your banner ad have never heard of you before. They don’t know anything about you or anything about what you’re offering. So, what it is that you’re selling? What is the actual product or service that you want your users to purchase?

Even if you’re starting a display advertising campaign focusing on increasing brand awareness (as opposed to direct response and conversions), this is still an important question. Even if people don’t complete a purchase right away, they can connect your product or your service to what they need later on.

Think in terms of direct benefits: what will your users get when they complete a purchase or fill in a lead generation form with you? The main point here is to make it as clearly as possible what you’re selling, the actual product instead of brand names. Unless you’re planning a retargeting campaign, don’t try to push brand names that don’t speak to your audience, they won’t be interested to learn more.

Also, if you’re offering a service, consider what will customers get when they use your service? (for instance for Creatopy, the actual product would be the banner ad maker, but what you’re getting when you use it are the actual banners, see more in the examples )

Step 2: Write what makes your product/service/company different?

match on blue wallpaper ad copy

This question will help you find the characteristics that will set you apart from the competition. It will give you the competitive edge and it will help you craft a clearer position in your audience’s mind.

So, how is your product, service or company different from the competition? Do you offer free shipping all year round? Do you provide excellent customer support? Where are your products or services made? Is it placed in a great location?

Make a list as comprehensive as possible of all the attributes that make your business different. Shoot for quantity and don’t worry about wording. However, don’t lie and add benefits that are not actually available.

Step 3: How can you say that differently?

one different match ad copy

If you’ve done the work in step two by now you should have a list of items that can be used to describe your business. This requires a bit of creativity, but when in doubt you can always try thesaurus.com or any other online dictionary to find alternatives.

Note: You don’t always have to rephrase the benefits. Sometimes the benefits you’ve outlined in the previous steps are good enough on their own. For instance, if you’re selling

Step 4: Combine words and get the perfect ad copy

Combine Creatopy

Take the product and the service that you’ve outlined in step 1 and create combinations of it and the attributes or the variations you’ve come up with in the subsequent steps. Don’t be afraid to combine one or two attributes with the product or service.

Also, don’t worry if you come up with more than one copy versions for your banner ads. See to which one your audience responds best by running an A/B test with one or more banner ads.

Let’s take a couple examples:

Example 1: Zappos.com.

1. What are you selling?

shoes and clothing for women, men and kids

 2. What makes your product/service/company different?

  • fast free shipping
  • excellent customer support
  • 365 day free returns
  • wide selection of items

3. How can you say that differently:

  • fast: quick, speedy
  • free shipping: free delivery, in no time

4. Banner ad copy:

  • Women’s shoes, delivered to you fast for free! 365 day free returns
  • Your next favourite pair of shoes delivered in no time! 365 day free returns

Example 2: Creatopy

#1. What are you selling?

banner maker app, Flash/HTML banners, online advertising campaign management platform

#2. What makes our product/service/company different?

  • it’s very easy to use
  • no coding required
  • it’s professional

#3. How can we say that differently?

  • easy to use:  simplified, demystified, within 10 clicks
  • no coding required: made simple, made easy
  • professional: top-notch

#4. Banner ad copy:

  • Professional Flash/HTML banners made easy.
  • Professional banners in 10 clicks or less.
  • All in one banner maker and advertising app.


Bonus tip: Always speak as plainly as possible. Unless you’re in the business to business sector or unless you’re targeting a very specific audience, it would be recommended to stay as far away as possible from complicated words and expressions. Use plain, simple language that everyone can understand.

Also, very important: Don’t forget to add a call to action. Follow up on the value proposition that you’ve outlined earlier with a relevant call to action. Tell your users exactly what you would want them to do.

We came up with this quick framework so you could create good copy for your banner ads as fast as you can create banners with Creatopy. If you’ve tried it and you have feedback for us, let us know in the comments.

Executive Account Manager


    1. thanks :)

    2. Making a banner is hard because there’s just so much information you want to put it, but not enough space. That leaves you to only putting in the important information. Although, you still need something to catch people’s attention. What’s the best way to combine information with also making it all flow together and making people want to read it?

    3. We agree with you, Jessie! There’s little pixels for so much information. We try to bring the best practices on our blog so you can easier design a banner. Therefore, putting a lot of emphasis on the ad copy and the Call-To-Action is one side of the story, while the other is how you design the banner – the images, the colors.

    4. thanks that was so helpful

    5. Very helpful info. I certainly struggle with getting my message across with a minimal amount of text space, especially given that much of what I promote is inherently visual, i.e. art items on Etsy, stock media asset packs and indie games on my profile at matthornb.itch.io, etc, so that leaves even less space for text!

      Four more things I have learned beyond what this article mentions:
      -colors matter. Red/orange works really well as an attention grabber, contrast between text and background is also super important.
      -font matters. The simpler, clearer, and more legible the font the better. It needs to stand out from the background.
      -Context matters. If you know the site you will advertise on, it can be worth customizing the ad to stand out visually on that site. And you should aim to advertise a product that appeals to the audience you are advertising it to. So think about who visits a particular site and if they would be interested in what you are promoting. If so, advertise there.
      -Animation, i.e. gifs or similar, can be easy attention grabbers. I used these on certain sites through Project Wonderful back in the day, little ad slots dirt cheap and animated ads, that got me an astounding 4-5 clicks per penny spent. Which leads to a bonus fifth tip, AB testing, ie you should try testing a mix of different ad variants shorter term, different ad designs on the same site, or the same ad design and different sites, see which venues, and which ad designs, are most effective before committing a larger campaign behind those. That way when you commit to a long, large ad campaign you know it will be efficient and generate as much traffic as is reasonably possible.

      Anyway, that is some of what I have learned.

    6. Thank you, a simplified explanation

    Leave a reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    You may also like