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How To Build Amazing Creative Without A Designer

 The SEM Expert’s Guide To Google Display Ad Builder

Maybe you’ve taken Google’s Display Ad Builder for a test drive. It’s a handy tool with a few quirks, somewhat limiting, but at the end of the day, it can be hacked to your great advantage if you’re a search engine marketer with sparse access to design resources. In this post, we’re going to explore ways to build really solid ad creative, 100% designer-free.

How does Display Ad Builder work?

If you’ve never run across the tool before, you’ll want to find it under the “Ads” tab in a given campaign, as you expand the “New ad” drop down  Check out the screenshot below and identify the “Display ad builder” link in the menu.

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The creation screen looks like this:

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All that’s left for you to do is to choose a template, pop in some ad copy and text for your call to action, put in a display and destination URL, and you’re off to the races.

Which templates should I use?

There are hundreds of templates, but if you’re not selling electronics, or flowers, or something else very popular in the e-commerce / retail world, you can scratch a slew of them off the list. The images pre-built into some of the templates will be too specific to those markets (e.g. cell phones, laptops and the like).

If you’re in e-commerce and have product images to share, there are many templates that are handy for dropping in several product images and focusing the creative around those.

If you’re in a niche market and don’t find relevant imagery, your best bet is the category called “All purpose” where you’ll just need to put a few lines of ad copy against a generic pre-designed background and drop in a logo or an image or two.

How do I make my ads awesome?

  • Write smart copy. Don’t stress over the template, as there aren’t as many designs as you’d like. Pick something simple and overcompensate by writing a few powerful words.

Bad: We can help you get your campaigns performing 300% better. How, you ask? It’s easy! [Click here]

Better: 3x ROI with one simple trick. [Learn the trick]

  • Don’t try to do too much. You only have a few words to work with. Display ads are small. Be sure it’s clear exactly what’s being advertised.

Bad: No closing cost refi! No SSN, No Closing Cost Loan. [Call now] 

Better: We help 1st time home buyers get a fair mortgage loan. [Compare rates]

  •  Vary the call to action. Do some testing. Be playful. Calls to action should be short, punchy and compelling.

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  • Tweak colors to match your branding. You have all the tools to mix up the background color, call to action button, etc. Use them!
  • Test animated ads against static ones. There are a few animated templates that are generic enough to fit your brand. Peg them against static ads and measure click through rates a few weeks in.

There are a few best practices to think about. The Google team has written up some of them on the AdWords blog, which you can check out here.

  • Typically it’s best to have campaigns that are targeted to the display network only, and within them, to run display ads in their own adgroup, and text ads in a separate adgroup
  • Transparent .png files are a nice touch if you have time to build them, so you don’t get the big awkward white border around your image if the background is a solid color

Tip: if you have Photoshop, learn to create a transparent .png here. If you don’t have Photoshop, and you want to do this for free, check out this video on how to do it using Paint.net, which is freeware.

  • Don’t forget that images you upload into the ads have to be 50k or under in file size

Now go make some killer ads and impress the too-busy-to-give-you-the-time-of-day designer in the next cube.

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Igor Belogolovsky

Igor Belogolovsky is a digital marketer, armchair landing page philosopher, SEM tinkerer extraordinaire and cofounder of Clever Zebo: the San Francisco Bay Area’s online marketing strategy powerhouse.
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