Seven Tips to Move Programmatic Design Forward

Programmatic advertising is modern-day wizardry that allows businesses to laser-target audiences and cultivate them over time. Good programmatic ad design plays a crucial role. Here are seven programmatic design tips to get the most out of your programmatic campaign.

Tip #1: Hone in on Targeting

  • Demographics: Age, gender, location.

  • Psychographics: Hobbies, interests, lifestyle. These can help you make your design ideas more meaningful. For example, does your audience like sailing? Don’t plop a boat in the ad, but use marine colors and light sailing motifs for a little extra attention.

  • Pain Points: Understand the top challenges of your target audience.

  • Desired Improvements: Buyers buy outcomes. Frame your story around the outcomes your target audience wants. Be specific where possible.

Tip #2: Shorten your Headlines

  • Keep to 3-7 words: The golden range. It takes work to compress a headline and still keep a strong meaning, but it’s worth the effort.

  • Simpler words: Choose “find” over “discover” and “use” over “utilize.” Go for words with 6th-8th grade reading levels whenever possible.  

  • Keep it conversational: Test headlines by saying them aloud. Would you say this to someone in real life? If not, simplify further.

  • Metaphors and similes: These can expand depth of meaning using fewer words.

Tip #3: Use Simple, Clean Design

  • Bright & bold: B2B and tech tend to very dark colors and reversed type – until you get to the enterprise level. Those with higher budgets tend to build lighter, brighter ads, with high-end designs that capture light and attention better. There are always exceptions, but the rule works in most cases. Be more like an enterprise, use light and bright design.

  • Avoid clutter: More than 3-5 design elements can confuse the eye and the brain. Narrow the scope. Include a headline, graphic, and call to action in a smooth, seamless flow.

  • Brand alignment: Build designs from larger brand and campaign creatives for better memory value, increasing the sales power of each ad impression.

  • Optimize design by channel: Create programmatic ad designs tailored to the channels your audience uses most, especially if your targets live on mobile devices.

Tip #4: Set Typographic Standards

  • Spacing: Don’t let defaults manage letter and line spacing. The larger the text, the wider and weirder the defaults. A rule of thumb is: 14pts and over, start to manually adjust.

  • Minimize variation: Keep the type variation to a minimum. Even if using the same font family, avoid too many sizes, weights, and colors.

  • Line things up: Align margins, from headlines to body copy to calls to action and graphics. Center items if preferred, but avoid wonky left rags and justified type, which can poorly impact letter spacing.

Tip #5: Provide Something of Value

  • Interactive content: Give prospects content tools that help advance the conversation. Examples: assessments, demos, or business case templates.

  • Video offers: Video content can tell a great story in a short time. Consider offering videos from thought leaders or influencers; short demos or explainers; or creating video case studies or interactive videos.

Tip #6: Keep Messaging Progression in Mind

  • Message sequencing: Provide fresh information or a different benefit angle in subsequent ads, all building toward a compelling brand or solution story.

  • Focus on outcomes: It’s not about what you do differently, it’s about what that difference does for the prospective buyer. Make it about them.

Tip #7: Test & Optimize Your Messages

  • A/B testing: Regularly test different versions of your ads to determine what works best.

  • Self-optimizing ads: Self-optimizing ad options based on behavior can speed up optimization processes with less effort.

  • The end game: Keep watch on performance across the complete funnel. Ads may get plenty of clicks, even form fills, but if they’re not contributing pipeline or revenue, they’re not creating the ROI these ads are capable of.

Bottom Line

When you understand programmatic ad design best practices, you can put them to work to get better results. Need programmatic design support? Contact CyberTheory to learn about our services and results for clients in this area.

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