What You Need To Know About Cross-Platform Ad Design

The value of an ad is determined by how well it generates conversions and brand awareness. In 2010, Dataxu, a demand side platform specializing in media buying, ran a large-scale test and found that creatives are the most responsible determinant of conversions. Today, consumers are using multiple devices, whether it is an iPhone, Android, iPad, or computer and advertisers must be able to deliver a consistent high quality brand experience on each of them.

It’s no longer enough to be “mobile first.” You have to be thinking multi-device. So, we’ve put together a guide to building creatives that work seamlessly across platforms and devices. From concept to implementation there are multiple factors to think about including the number of designs, the number of formats, and the number of sizes you have to make.

Designs – How many designs should you run for an ad campaign? One specific brand message for consumers requires only one set of designs. However, if you’re trying to drive conversions or find messages that resonate with consumers, you need a lot more.

Formats – The main question when determining what format to build in is HTML or Flash? Each format requires you to build the ad differently. From our experience, running thousands of campaigns, the best trade-off is to support only HTML ads and have JPG backups in the instances of slow page loading or browser incompatibilities. Most browsers support HTML ads so there is no real loss of audience by not building in flash. Alternatively, solely building in flash leaves out a large population of mobile devices.

When working with HTML, you’ll have to render the ad. At PaperG, we use a combination of CSS and JavaScript but find CSS is the best overall. It allows us to make responsive ads that can adapt to changing screen sizes and types (retina/non-retina), and, it allows for smoother animations.

Size – How many ad unit sizes should you support given the 20+ standard ad units available for different screens? When we looked at our tens of thousands of campaigns, we were able to determine which sizes have the right balance of most impressions on ad exchanges and which performed the best:

  • 300×250
  • 300×600
  • 728×90
  • 120×20
  • 300×50

The more successful campaigns are designed well and while creatives are the most important factor to determine value, cross-platform design is the driving force in today’s digital ad revolution.