8 Tips for Creating Display Ads That Actually Work

Display ads are a great asset of an integrated marketing campaign. But, wouldn’t you love it if they were even more effective? Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips for creating a great display ad. I also work with some folks in product who know a thing or two about this. Based on that combined experience, I’ve gathered eight tips to help you create attention-grabbing display ads.

Tip 1: Have a strong offer

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A strong offer plays into people’s desire to save money and get a great deal. Also, consider whether your offer beats or matches your competitors. Consumers are savvy; they comparison shop, and they’ll spot a soft offer from far away. So, make it worthwhile for them. Presenting offers, like the one to the left, with “up to” discounts can help you lead with large discounts.

Tip 2: Incorporate compelling imagery

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When selecting imagery, use natural landscapes and people with happy expressions. This type of imagery helps your audience associate positive imagery with your brand or destination. Choose images that are easily identifiable because those will speak to wider audiences. Whether it’s an iconic landmark like the Eiffel Tower or a serene picture of a beach, people can immediately relate to these. They also help you get around the issue of translation—no one needs an image of a mountain lake translated. With copy, however, you’ll potentially need to translate it and that can be costly.

Tip 3: Use minimal copy

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Just as images can be compelling, fewer words can be too. Ads that are jammed with too many words and phrases are messy and confusing. Edit and remove unnecessary fluff, like in the before and after examples to the left and right, to make your ad cleaner.

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Tip 4: Have a clear CTA

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There should be a clear connection between the call-to-action (CTA) featured on the ad copy to the landing page that the ad leads to. For example, if your CTA is “BOOK NOW,” then the CTA should take consumers directly to a page for booking—not to a page with more offers or other content.

Tip 5: Stay on brand

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Choose colors, formats, and other elements that will let consumers identify your brand easily. And if they’re familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to click on the ad. I like Visit Jamaica’s ad to the left because it uses the Jamaica logo, but also it contains the word “vibe.” Vibe resonates with how many of us already think about Jamaica.

Tip 6: Use urgent messaging

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Messaging like “free,” “sale,” and “limited time,” may not be a new tactic, but it’s still very effective. That’s because consumers feel like they’re getting a great deal and that they’re not missing out. Barbados does this well in their ad by letting consumers know that the offer is only for summer. With words and phrasing like this, the message is clear: the time to act is now.

Pro Tip 7: Include rich media in your ad

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Rich media includes advanced features like video, audio, expansion, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content. In our experience, rich media can lead to improving click through rates, sometimes two, or even three times.

Tip 8: Leverage experts and your partners

Last, but just as important, rely on your advertising partners for their expertise. For instance, we have a variety of tactics designed to help you create display ads and position them within your larger marketing campaign. We can help you:

  • Leverage your account manager to assist you in creative strategy to accomplish your goals
  • Test your creative to dive deeper into which elements perform the best for your brand/campaign 
  • Optimize your ad based on results
  • Incorporate data-driven insights from our first-party data
  • Apply learnings from this campaign/ad to other marketing efforts 


By applying these tips, your display ads can be more effective. And don’t forget, we can leverage our first-party data, strategic insights, precise targeting, and robust reporting to help you make tactical decisions, especially in the pre and post-campaign stages. All these aspects come together to help you create effective display ads as part of an integrated marketing strategy.

Want to learn more? Check out other Solutions offered by out team. Or, reach out to one of our digital media experts.

Christine Walker Scarce

Senior Director, Product & Sales Marketing

Christine Walker Scarce leads the product marketing team at Expedia Group Media Solutions, overseeing the go-to-market strategies for the digital advertising products and services across the Expedia Group portfolio of leading travel brands. Her team is responsible for everything from product planning and positioning to marketing strategy to deliver innovative media offerings and reporting for marketing partners. Christine previously spent seven years at Expedia.com as the senior manager for destination management, where she led product strategy for Expedia.com. With more than 20 years in the marketing industry, Christine has experience in e-commerce, merchandising and technology industries, having led product strategy and development previously at Vegas.com and T-Mobile. She is a graduate from the University of Houston and lives in Seattle with her family.

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