Five checklist items when you receive a new ad creative from your advertiser

1. Ad Format

There are many formats for ad creatives. The most common image formats for banner ads are GIF, JPG/JPEG, and PNG files. BMP, TIFF and other image formats are not common and should be converted to a more suitable format for compatibility with all browsers and to reduce the file size. For a Flash ad, the file extension should be SWF. If the source file is FLA, you must export it to SWF. Also, if the advertiser sends you a ZIP, PDF, HTML or an ad screenshot, you would need to extract an ad image or a Flash/SWF file from the attachment. If there are no clear instructions, you need to request clarifications from the advertiser or the agency who provides this creative.

2. Ad Dimension

Ad dimension is measured by width and height in pixels. You need to make sure the new banner fits the corresponding ad placement. You do not want a 160x600 ad displaying within a 728x90 ad placement. It will break the website's design and give a bad impression to your visitors. If your ad tag requests a specific dimension, you need to make sure the incoming ad file has that exact dimension. An ad can be excluded from the rotation just because it is off by one pixel. A subtle-yet-important difference is 728x90 versus 720x90, or 468x60 versus 460x60. These can be easily overlooked but they are essentially different ad dimensions. One solution is to set the ad tag to display multiple similar dimensions and not one specific dimension.

3. Ad File Size

An ad file is a regular file hosted on an online server so website visitors can display it in their web browsers. You want your visitors to instantly see the ad contents. The smaller the file size, the faster it will load. A regular image banner should be less than 30Kbytes (kilobytes) per file. Flash or interactive contents should be less than 60Kbytes per file. You should make sure the hosting servers are fast and reliable. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) can be used to locate the file on multiple servers around the world for the lowest latency and the highest bandwidth throughput to your individual visitors. If the ad is big, you can use an advanced concept called "polite ad" that loads in two phases. The first load is small and the second load has the main content. This is often done with streaming videos: a static video player as the first load and the video itself as the main load.

4. Ad Animation and Audio

Certain file formats support animation (GIF and SWF files) and interactive contents (SWF files). Animation is more attractive, offers more details and a better overall visitor experience. However, too much of anything is always bad. A fast sequence of images with bright flashing colors can be very distracting. You should balance aesthetic factors with contents so that visitors stay engaged and want to click on the ad to find out more about the offer.

5. Ad Landing Page

The landing page is the page where your visitors would go to when they click on the ad. It is very important that the provided landing page URL is valid and goes to a working page. It is bad for everyone when a visitor clicks on an ad to see an error page. The advertiser loses a potential lead and the visitor does not get what he/she was looking for. Also, it is a broken link on your website, making it a bad experience for your visitor. One way to check this scenario for you and your advertiser is to test a click and replicate your visitor's experience after the ad is created.
December 15, 2011


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