What Makes a Good Ad?

Contrary to what many think, it is not hard to create a good ad. There are many great ads that may appear very different on the surface, but ultimately all follow a simple rule: less is more.

In any advertisement, the timeframe you have to make an impression on your audience is limited to seconds. For billboard and print ads, this may be as little as 3-5 seconds; for radio and television, 30 seconds is usually standard. This limited time and space may encourage the notion that the ad or commercial must be full to the brim with information. This is misleading, and merely creates a cluttered, schizophrenic ad that becomes lost among similar amateur efforts. It is far more effective to develop a concise, coherent ad that appeals well to its audience.

A good ad:
  • Connects with its audience
  • Is memorable and easily recalled
  • Provides information quickly and succinctly
  • Doesn’t confuse the viewer or make them hunt for the pertinent information
  • Calls the viewer to action
It’s okay to have white spaces, pauses, slow pans, or other elements that some might call a “waste” of space. Effective advertising does not lambaste the viewer with information; it allows room for the message to get the audience’s attention and connect.

What makes a good print ad? A good print ad is composed of four elements:
  • A provocative image
  • A strong headline
  • A paragraph or two of tight, well-written copy
  • A logo and/or contact information
What makes a good outdoor ad? A good outdoor ad has the following:
  • A single, easy to recognize image
  • Only 3 to 5 words – any more and they’ll be missed
  • A clear logo or branding