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How to build trust in your display ads – 5 steps

build trust display ads
6 minutes read

What are the odds that you’ll click the next banner ad you see? Some stats suggest that you’re more likely to survive a plane crash or give birth to twins than to click a banner ad.

Even if scary, stats like that are based on some cold, hard facts.

Display advertising campaigns are renowned for their critically low click-through rates when compared to search advertising campaigns. This is the most important reason why display advertising is not so easy to sell.

While average CTRs for display campaigns have reached a historically low 0.07% average, search ads still bring in at least a 2-3% average. And that’s just the average. If you’ve added the right keywords and created good ads, you can get even 20-30% CTR.

So, what could be a possible explanation for the 35x – 350x difference between search text ads and banner ads?

Turns out there isn’t only one, but a few very sound reasons why people don’t click banner ads.

First, banners are perceived as intruders – 61% of users said they click ads because they don’t want to be interrupted or distracted. Advertisers apparently also need to work on targeting – 58% of users claim that the banners they see aren’t relevant to them. No click there either. The third main concern is privacy and security: 57% of users are afraid of receiving spam from advertisers or of getting a virus. (source)

However, 54% mentioned that they don’t trust the banner ads they see.

Yes, folks, you’re missing on more than half of potential clicks, visitors, or purchases because users don’t trust what they see.

Of course, there are a lot of other factors that could explain the low click-through rates: banner blindness, ad fatigue, or even ad blockers.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking: “And why should I care about this? I’ll invest my money in search campaigns. That’ll do.”

Even if search is a preferred channel for a lot of marketers and advertisers, it has become very complex. If you haven’t hired someone to manage it for you, it takes a lot of time and patience to understand everything. Not to mention that search can get expensive without bringing in results.

That being said, there are a lot of reasons why you should consider display advertising for your business. With search retargeting campaigns, you can even match the same level of interest in your audience as with classic search campaigns. And you know about site retargeting and how it can help you bring back lost users, right?

But, let’s get back to the point: 54% of users don’t click banner ads because they don’t trust them.

Still… don’t despair – not all is lost. See below a list of ways in which you can build trust in your display ads. And consequently, get more clicks.

STEP 1. Build an emotional connection

It’s one of the simplest ways to get trust. And at the same time one of the hardest. It requires emotion, honesty, and authenticity from advertisers and a full focus on the audience.

Ok, so how can you do this? You need to show empathy and that you really know your audience. That you know what makes them happy, what makes them sad. You know about their problems, you care about them, and you want to help them. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Show your customers that you share their passions, interests, and concerns and they will (sooner or later) reward you. Start by asking the simple questions: Who are your customers? What do they care about? What do they love? What do they hate? What are their biggest problems?

Take that information and tell your audience how you can help. Remember, to be honest, people can sense when you’re fake.

Additionally, you can use a touch of humor. People are attracted to confidence and being able to laugh at yourself shows that you know you’re good. Being funny also increases your chances of getting your audience’s attention and it makes it easier for them to remember you.

STEP 2. Social Proof

If you think about it, the restaurant that has a long queue has the most reviews on Yelp. The museum that has the highest number of visitors is rated as a top attraction on TripAdvisor. And most likely, you look at and read customer testimonials before purchasing a new laptop or a household appliance on Amazon.

That’s social proof in action and it’s another way to build trust with your audience.

People like to take all kinds of shortcuts when making decisions. Relying on what large masses believe, say, or do is one of these shortcuts. “If a lot of people say it’s good, then it must be good”. Think “I’ll have what she’s having” if you saw “When Harry met Sally”

Social proof comes in a few different flavors, see them listed below.

a. experts’ and authority approval

Experts stand out as authorities in their field. For that reason, people trust what they say and what they recommend.

There are several ways in which you can use this. You can feature a fragment of an expert review, alongside a photo of the expert or you can use logos from trusted organizations on your banner ad. Feature business awards, membership of industry associations, or accreditation (e.g. Adwords certified partner).

Additionally, you can use logos for security, privacy, and business identity seals (the BBB logo) to show that your business is fully legitimate and that your customers can check the information at any time.

b. celebrity endorsements

Celebrity endorsements work because we want to be as much as possible like the people we admire. If someone you admire uses a product or a brand, you’re much more likely to show trust and use it yourself.

If available and if you have the copyrights, use a photo of a celebrity using your product or recommending your service. This might be a bit harder to accommodate and more appropriate for large brands, but at the same time, it might be money and the effort.

c. users’ ratings, reviews, and testimonials

A consumer study mentioned that 85% of users read up to 10 reviews before making a purchase. Ok, you might be thinking, how am I going to fit ten reviews into a small banner ad?

It’s enough if you feature a fragment of a user testimonial. For instance, you can feature a tweet where they praise your product. You can also use phrases like “4 out of 5 users recommend us” or star reviews on your banner.

d. large groups’ approval

The rationale behind this is: “The more people use a product or a service, the better the product or the service”.

If available, mention the number of users for your app, how many users have subscribed to your service, or how many have purchased from you: “Over 1000 satisfied customers”. You’d be considering the service already, no?

STEP 3. Good design

If you want to make a good impression, pay attention to the design of your banner ad.

Keep it simple; don’t overcrowd it with a lot of information. Our banner maker offers many free templates to help you get inspired. You don’t need to have your business address, phone number, and a detailed description of what you do.

Keep the design simple, use solid colors or subtle gradients and clear, professional images. Multi-colored gradients and low-quality images will make your ad look unprofessional. At the same time, they undermine confidence in your products and services.

Also, use a font that’s easy to read and a good size. Anything that requires you to squint your eyes in order to read will create doubts in your customer’s mind.

STEP 4. Branding

This one might simple and straightforward, but there still are a lot of businesses that don’t use any branding on their banners.

However, using branding elements helps you build trust, confidence, and a reputation with your audience. Add your logo or your website address to your banner and use a color scheme that is similar to your website

If you don’t have a logo designed, get one because it pays off. You don’t need to hire an expensive designer. There are a lot of crowdsourcing design websites where you can post a job for a logo and get a few good proposals.

STEP 5. Use language your audience understands


The image above speaks volumes and pretty much sums it up. If you want your audience to trust you, you need to speak their language. People are generally afraid of what they don’t understand and they won’t trust you if they can’t understand you.

Language and words are one of the simplest ways to inspire trust. If you use words that are too complicated or unfamiliar for your audience, they’ll take a step backward.

Generally, plain, simple words inspire confidence, openness, and authenticity and appeal to a wide audience. Try to use them as much as possible.

Like with everything, balance is key here. If you overuse or abuse the techniques we mentioned above, it could all backfire. There is such a thing as trying too hard.

Select one or two techniques to use in a single display ad. Or here’s an even better idea: A/B test them to see which of these works best for you and your business.

Let us know in the comments below which one worked best for you or if you know other ways to build trust in your banner ads!

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