Some tips for ad image design

Timing is everything

If you’ve looked at advertising through banner ads, the thought of using an animated ad has probably crossed your mind. Or maybe you’ve seen some cool animated icons on forums and you want one of your own. You can pack more info into an animated image than you can into a static image. If it’s good, people may willing watch it again.

A good animated ad (or avatar) is a lot like a joke. Timing is key. “Take my wife please” isn’t funny. “Take my wife… please” is funny, and it’s all because of the pause. A mistimed ad will fall as flat as a mistimed joke. Too fast and you may drive people nuts, or even actively drive them off the page to escape your ad!

I apologize in advance for this example. I did a simple two frame animation and purposely set the speed waaaaaaay too high.

pikaseizure1.gif

 

G

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A

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Y

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Now that we’ve banished that seizure-inducing monstrosity from the screen with some rapid scrolling, let’s get back to timing. Most blinking items aren’t that awful, but some are pretty darn close!

 

For large items, you want the ad to change slowly enough that all the text in the frame can be easily read in that time without people getting bored, waiting for it to change.

gauntletbanner1.gif

 

For small items that are next to a block of text (such as avatar or blog ads), you want them to be slow, then fast. Give the eye long enough to get used to the item then being still, then let it have a sudden quick movement. The movement in peripheral vision will often get people to actively look at your ad.

pikaboom.gif

 

 

People are very sensitive to movements in their peripheral vision and will usually turn their head to see what caught their attention. We’re also naturally curious and will watch something to verify that yes, we really DID just see that thing wink at us!

 

For longer animations, you can often tell a little story. Leave the front piece with the majority of the message still. You can pack a more detailed message in the still portion because if you did a good job, people caught the ‘show’ halfway through and want to see the beginning. They’ll stare at the ad for a few seconds, waiting for the show to restart.

Here’s an example:

pikaboom1.gif

 

If you caught him shooting laser beams out his eyes while you were reading the surrounding paragraphs, you probably stared at him for a few seconds waiting for him to repeat his trick. He’s on a 6 second delay. People usually look at ads for less than half a second. 6 seconds is an eternity on the internet. If you can get someone to stare at your ad intently for that long, you’ll get a much higher click through rate.

 

So how long did it take to get the timing right? For the winking pika, it took about 2 minutes. For the one that shoots laser beams, he took about 10 minutes to design the whole thing, including the timing. I forget how long the large example took, but probably around 20 minutes. If you’ve never worked with animations before, it’ll take a lot longer to do your first one. It is worth it to spend the extra time fine tuning the speed rather than just using the preset speeds.

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