Tips and tricks to maximize ad design efficiency
11 minutes read

Looking at eMarketer’s stats for display ad spending in the US in recent years it’s clear there is a huge number of ads published, predicted only to keep growing.

Still, don’t think for a second that all display ad campaigns that see the light of day are successful.

Catchy designs are not enough to cut through the clutter of ads users are bombarded with on a daily basis. You need a combination of good designs PLUS audience targeting, A/B testing, measuring results, and ad optimization, to name a few.

Because crafting and launching an ad campaign is no easy task, we asked 13 experts to spill the tea on how to maximize productivity when designing ads and increase campaign efficiency.

Let’s dive into the 15 actionable pieces of advice they shared with us.

1. Simplify the Workflow Using an Ad Design Platform

Repetitive tasks are a given in the ad creation process and no designer can escape them without a little bit of help.

As a non-professional designer, the hardest part is building one fantastic asset and then recreating it for multiple other sizes. Early on, I learned it was so important to find a tool that allowed me to customize creatives for many platforms and sizes—all at once. You’ll end up saving time on production and asset management. And soon, you’ll find that anyone can be a designer if they have the right tool.

Matt Lally

Matt Lally, Founder of MattyAds

Ad design platforms like Creatopy allow you to make different size variations from a single design and bulk edit them, or use data feeds to instantly generate multiple ads and get your campaigns published faster. 

There are 2 parts of the process that end up taking a lot of time when creating display ads, animating and producing all the sizes. I really love the process of animating, but there’s a steep learning curve to making really slick animations. Banner animation software and plugins tend to have cheesy presets. In my experience I haven’t found an easy software with the advanced features I want—yet!

Kaity Hammerstein

Kaity Hammerstein, Designer at Dribbble

Creating animated ads that stand out can also be challenging, especially when you have zero coding skills. With Creatopy, it’s easy to make HTML5 banners in an intuitive drag-and-drop interface using a wide array of animation presets that you can customize with a few clicks.

2. Handle the Design Process One Phase at a Time

You probably already know that the trick to taking on big tasks is breaking them down into smaller ones. Well, crafting a successful ad campaign is no exception.

If you have the time, a phased approach for ad campaigns is always awesome. It allows you to throw a lot of ideas out there at the beginning and then use those insights to fine-tune and get your best performing ads. Also – don’t be discouraged if some ads tank! It happens all the time, and there are a ton of factors with the creative as just a part of it. When it comes down to it, relevant content will always rise to the top! 

Samantha Salvaggio

Samantha Salvaggio, Senior Brand Designer at Pilot.com

3. Facilitate Collaboration Between People Involved

When you’ve got more than one person working on an ad campaign, a common challenge is bringing everyone on the same page.

The biggest use of time when preparing creative for an ad campaign is usually spent in communication. There are often several stakeholders involved, all with different goals and points of view, that can sometimes butt heads. It takes clear communication, defined and outlined goals and often times the understanding that comes through an ongoing relationship to help to begin to save some time.

In my experience, taking the time up front to discuss and document in detail on a new project nearly always pays off.

Charlee Alexeev

Charlee Alexeev, Founder and Design Director at Emerald Design

You can go one step further and put together a campaign brief in advance, giving everyone a precise course of action from the beginning.

Any sort of time wasted is usually spent as a result of mis-alignment from the beginning of the project – that’s why it’s so important to have a brief for projects where you’re aligned with your stakeholders on the audience, what you’ll be testing, the overall concept, timeline, etc. I’m able to move faster in the creation of assets by having all that figured out and agreed-upon up-front. It also leads to better collaboration amongst a cross-functional team and builds trust with your stakeholders.  

Samantha Salvaggio

Samantha Salvaggio, Senior Brand Designer at Pilot.com

Still, remember that keeping an open communication channel throughout the entire design process is equally important to the end result. Some ad design platforms, including Creatopy, have design collaboration features that make giving and receiving feedback extremely easy.

Look for feedback. It’s a simple piece of advice but it can drastically improve your work and get you to the next level. Feedback allows you to see your designs from many different perspectives, and you can apply those learnings later on, they just stay with you. You broaden the way you look at your work (and design in general) with every new piece of feedback you get.

Maria Zhevnova

Maryia Zhaunova, Art Director at Pearmill

4. Stay Organized Throughout the Design Process

Yes, good organizational skills are an asset in ad design as well. Whether you use apps or prefer the old-school pen and paper method, it’s up to you.

Staying organized and using as many automation as I can! Notion (all the notes, screenshots, and comments), Motion (my AI personal assistant), Zapier (automating new emails and Slack messages as tasks in Notion), and taking the time to setup components in Figma (even for small projects – because more often than not you’ll end in the same project file again later on) really helps to save time and reduce errors in my work.

Charlee Alexeev

Charlee Alexeev, Founder and Design Director at Emerald Design

Some ad design platforms such as Creatopy, allow you to organize your work into projects, folders, and hierarchies, so you don’t have to use other management apps on the side.

5. Find New Ways to Spark Your Creativity

Inspiration can sometimes be hard to come by. If you’re lucky enough to have some design elements clearly defined from the get-go, it is somehow easier to get your creative juices flowing.

I usually work pretty fast, but I do waste a lot of time BEFORE I actually start designing a campaign. It’s kind of a blank page syndrome. 

What I found really helpful is laying down all of the design elements on a board, including copy elements, drafts of illustrations, photos – depending on what I’m working on. It could look chaotic at first, but it sparks ideas and the thought process. It’s similar to having all of the ingredients of a meal on the table before you start cooking. You don’t have to waste any more time looking for seasonings, or salt, or anything else. You just need to mix them and make them work together.

Maria Zhevnova

Maryia Zhaunova, Art Director at Pearmill

However, if you have no idea where to start or, on the contrary, have too many ideas, the best thing you could do is create an advertising mood board before the actual design process. It will help you get inspired, or select the ideas worth keeping, depending on the scenario.

6. Design With the Campaign Objective in Mind

Okay, this one will probably cause some eyes to roll, because it’s pretty obvious.

Still, while it might not be an issue for advertisers who have gone through the ad creation process several times before, it can be an honest mistake for less experienced ad-makers so it’s worth mentioning.

Avoid losing sight of the main objective of the ad campaign during the design process. Everything boils down to the main objective, and that will determine the success of the campaign. Time is wasted when there’s a misalignment between the creative idea and the campaign objective.

Sinoun Chea

Sinoun Chea, CEO of ShiftWeb

To put it briefly, the campaign objective should give the design direction. It doesn’t really matter whether that is to increase brand awareness, promote a new product, boost sales, or something else.

7. Pay Equal Attention to Copy and Design

Depending on your brand’s nature or the industry you’re in, you may struggle with one aspect of the creative ad design over the other. 

We feel like we’re wasting most of our time on the copy and looking at whether it aligns with the brand’s voice for a display ad campaign.

Palkita Gautam

Palkita Gautam, Marketing Associate at DataToBiz

Whether you are one of the businesses that dedicate more time to writing effective ad copy and don’t have much left to put into the design, or vice versa, it’s time to change your approach.

A poorly designed ad will fail to grab user attention from the get-go, while one with good design but weak copy won’t convince users to click, lowering conversion rates. Both aspects are just as important and should be given the same attention. 

8. Use Customizable Templates to Save Time

Creating ad designs from scratch takes time you might not be able to spare, especially when campaign launch dates are closing in. But there’s a simple solution to this problem:

Templates, templates, templates. Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you want to create a new asset – ads, collateral, ebooks, social posts, etc. This is especially helpful when you’re needing to test different ad copy, imagery, and color scheme within a single campaign. Not only does it help with overall brand consistency, it also makes testing easier for your demand gen/paid partners. 

Samantha Salvaggio

Samantha Salvaggio, Senior Brand Designer at Pilot.com

If you are already using an ad design platform to make ads, then you probably have access to professionally designed templates. For example, Creatopy offers a large selection of industry-specific ad templates included in the cost of any subscription.

9. Make Sure the Ads Are Aligned With Your Brand

Brand recognition places your brand in top choices in customers’ minds, increasing the chances of them making a purchase decision in your favor.

While creating display ads, always stay true to your brand image, tone, and vision. Ensure that your ads feel seamless and professional, almost a mirror of your brand. This way, the display ads can make your brand easily recognizable amongst the viewers.

Christian Velitchkov

Christian Velitchkov, Co-Founder of Twiz

You can incorporate your brand’s personality into ads using design elements like logo, color palette, custom fonts, or licensed imagery.

Creatopy makes this especially easy for you with the Brand Kit feature, which lets you store all brand assets into a kit can that can be accessed by all your team members directly from the workspace.

10. Leverage the Power of Video Ads

Video ads are more effective in sparking users’ interest, which is no surprise because motion and sound are harder to ignore than plain static ads.

Taking use of video’s popularity and efficacy as a type of multimedia advertising will help you attract your audience’s attention and keep them engaged in what you’re giving. Although being more interactive comes at a (literal) cost, if used properly, investment in rich media can pay off in terms of ROI.

Sarah Johansson

Sara Johansson, Customer Success Manager at Onsiter

The good news is video advertising does not have to be expensive. You can now create powerful video ads in-house with the right tool.

For instance, Creatopy has an intuitive online video editor that allows even people with no design experience to tailor video ads to perfection.

11. Ensure Ads Are in Harmony With the Landing Page

Users who click on ads expect to reach a landing page that expands on what they’re promised in the ad. It goes without saying that:

There must be visual uniformity between the advertisement and the landing page. Creating new and original advertising that is engaging enough to entice customers to click on while staying consistent with the landing page can be difficult. Choosing the optimum display colors that capture attention without clashing with the page’s color scheme on which it appears is also tricky.

Having pre-existing templates, updated instructions, and assets from which designers can build up speed up the entire process. When they are unsure, they may look back to these references. Also, having a frame of reference ensures consistency without limiting creativity too much.

David Bitton

David Bitton, Co-Founder and CMO at DoorLoop

12. Optimize Your Ads for Mobile Users

Here’s another thing to have in mind when designing ads: the browsing experience on mobile devices is different from the one on desktops.

Ensure that your display ads are mobile-friendly as you will be able to reach a wide audience base, especially in an era when most of the audiences are already hooked to their smartphone screens all day long.

Christian Velitchkov

Christian Velitchkov, Co-Founder of Twiz

And it’s not only your ads that should be optimized for mobile traffic, but the landing page users end up on as well.

Remember to prioritize fast loading speed, as 40% of smartphone users won’t wait for a page to load longer than three seconds.

13. Test Your Ads to Improve the Conversion Rate

Even with an accurately defined target audience, your ads might still perform poorly. The best way to combat this is to:

Split-test your advertisements. Experiment with alternative Calls to Action (CTAs), new offers or promotions, new color schemes, and new pictures, just as you would with text advertising. Make sure you only modify one element at a time to observe what has an effect and that your ad rotation settings are set to ‘rotate indefinitely’ so you can collect equal data for split testing.

Kavin Patel

Kavin Patel, Founder and CEO of Convrrt 

But this isn’t the only instance in which A/B testing can be used. Let’s say you work for an agency creating ads for different clients and you want to make sure they will be well received. 

Try user A/B testing – rather than traditional live A/B testing. By testing the ad creatives with real people, you save pain and heartache with the client. Imagine working days on a design and then getting the creative rejected by the client. 

Alden Do Rosario

Alden Do Rosario, CEO of Poll the People

14. Define Your Targeting to Reach the Right People

Knowing your ideal customer is the secret to delivering relevant ads to people who are most likely to purchase your products or services.

Get your ad targeting accurate with different insights from your brand. Start with segmenting your buyer persona and find out the most search-worthy keywords to curate ads accordingly to target the right audiences with your display ads.

Christian Velitchkov

Christian Velitchkov, Co-Founder of Twiz

This way you’ll also maximize your ROI, as you won’t waste resources targeting users with no potential to become customers.

15. Focus on the Right Campaign Metrics

Measuring campaign effectiveness is a crucial step that can help you improve performance and ultimately increase ROI. But for that you need to:

Get the basics right. If you’re designing a display ad campaign, you should be aware of different metrics that will make your digital ad shine. For instance, in case your goal is to get more traffic then you should focus on clicks, and calculate the CPC indicator. If you reach for more brand awareness, you have to invest in impressions by making your ad easy to be recognized.

Radu Tyrsina

Radu Tyrsina, CEO & Founder of Windows Report and Reflector Media

If you’re unsure which metrics to track for your specific goal, do some research before launching your campaign and start prepared.

Final Thoughts

I hope you discovered at least one thing that changes your ad-making process for the better.

If you did, I’m curious to know which of these design productivity and ad efficiency tips you found most helpful. In case we missed anything important, or you want to share your advice, feel free to comment below.

Ana Predescu
Content Marketing Specialist who loves stories in any shape or form, be it written, video, or audio. Passionate about (digital) marketing. Cinema enthusiast. Cat lover. Most likely to laugh at bad jokes and make them myself.

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