Design the Overall Ad for Easy Reading

Be sure to use simple and specific language.

Try to solve your reader’s problem or offer helpful ideas. Call your readers to action – and give them the essential information needed to act. By aligning your call to action with the ad’s objective (Call now to discuss your application/ Check-out out Web site for a free trial), you can help facilitate your ad’s success.

There are at least a couple of factors that often contribute to “unreadable” ads.

The first is the desire to get the most for your money. This results in a creative that, visually speaking, looks more like an article than a well-crafted ad. The phrase “less is more” should usually be heeded.

Another culprit is the fact that a desktop design capability is so readily available. Now that everyone with a computer has access to all sorts of ways to design a page the tendency is to think that the old tried and true look (headline, illustration, text) is much too mundane; “What’s the point of having access to 70 different fonts if I’m only going to use two of them?” Fonts and graphic tricks are like atomic weapons: just because we have them doesn’t mean we should use them.

By choosing typefaces based on size and on the basis of readability, you’ll be improving your ad’s chances for success. Whether your copy is long or short, it must be well organized and well laid out, or else you’ll lose the readers’ interest mid-stream.

Being aware of these readership detractors is only half the battle. It’s tempting to violate them with various excuses. Only give “artistic license” to those designs that ensure ease of reading. Although it’s hard to admit, an aesthetically unattractive ad is not necessarily bad if it contributes to readership.

There are numerous techniques that may “look” great, but which typically detract from a readers’ ability to read and understand the intended message. For example, dark backgrounds, small headlines, difficult-to-read fonts, numerous unrelated photos/images, and atypical layouts (vertical headlines, imbedded headlines, etc.) make the reader wonder, “Where do I start?”

For example, a frequently used attention-getting technique is the use of reverse type. If used properly, the technique can lead to a visually stunning ad. However, our research has shown that less than half as many readers found an ad using reverse type to be “of interest” than the identical ad which did not use the technique.

Illustrate Your Product in Use

Help your potential customers relate to the product. By showing the product in action, your ad can create a visualization of your central sales point: what the product will do for the reader.

Readers are only giving you a split second of their time. The easiest way to capture their attention – and bring them further into the sales points you make in the copy – is via a compelling visual that demonstrates how the product works and what its advantages are.

Try to avoid static graphics that portray product categories, assortments, or lines. Although, sometimes easier to obtain, these graphics are simply the “facts” of the illustration world.

When you show your product in action, you’ll emphasize the benefits instead of the facts. If product line pictures are unavoidable, be sure to use the headline and copy to draw out the benefits, perhaps with callouts, and clearly explain why the choice is offered.

Avoid Humor & Shock Value

As an advertiser, humor is probably not your primary objective. It is often not a successful method of making sales points.

Keep in mind that what advertisers find humorous is not necessarily funny to your audience. What you have in common is the potential interest/need in a product you are trying to sell — not necessarily the same sense of humor.

While shocking your reader is often attention getting, it probably doesn’t support your ad’s objective. Ads with violent or sexual images may get readers attention – but usually create a negative perception and image.

Invariably the comments we see from readers who’ve been asked to rate these ads are negative: “What does a woman in a bikini, standing in a bird cage, have to do with it?” Attempts at humor or attempts at shocking your readers can frustrate, confuse, or in some cases, even offend them; three objectives you don’t want your ad to meet.


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