Good vs. Bad Ad Design

We recently put this handy little visual guide together for Santa Cruz Waves and their magazine clients. We’re hoping it help educate local business owners on what makes an effective ad.


Well-designed, focused ad

  • 0.5 – 1 inch “Safe Zone” around edges for copy.
  • Clear headline / call to action, focusing on a single service or benefit.
  • Clean, well-composed photo or image, supporting the tagline / headline / call to action, unifying the ad. Try and keep it to one or two images.
  • Effective contact info.

    Cluttered, unfocused ad

    • Copy is too close to edges, causing unease and tension.
    • No clear one call to action. The more copy you have, the less people will read your ad. Also, note that the copy seems to float around the page, with no real alignment.
    • Too many images, making the piece too complicated and confusing.
    • Too much contact info, becomes overwhelming.

    This was primarily created with print ads in mind, but many of these pointers can be used across many mediums!

    Searching Every Book – Google Books N-gram Viewer

    Google Books Logo

    This article is part of our new series, dedicated to finding Cool S#!t Online. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, or add us to your RSS to hear about more Cool S#!t!

    What is Google Books?

    books_logo_lgThe short answer: Google Books is an archive of millions and millions and millions of books, that have been scanned and converted to searchable text by Google (and you). The obvious reason is to have books previously only available in paper available, to read or search online. My favorite piece of trivia about the project is that the majority of Captchas you fill out online are actually Google’s way of getting you to pitch in and help convert books to a searchable format, absolutely genius, getting us to work for free!

    The Long Answer: Read more on Wikipedia

    What is an n-gram?

    An n-gram is essentially a chart that shows the usage of words in a body of text or speech. It get’s more complex than that, but I’m going to skip the details and get to the fun stuff.

    Now that Google has a searchable copy of over 30 million books, and they are also masters of things like n-grams, why not let us search the entire library for individual words, and their usage over time?

    And that is exactly what they did. They also let you compare words against the usage of other words, so… getting on to the Cool part of this article, let’s do some searching.

    Do Art and Business mix?

    I compared the words Business, Commerce, Design, Advertising and Art

    design more used than art

    The Basics of reading an n-gram: Each line is a word or phrase, the chart’s y-axis (on the left) shows the % that word is used out of ALL the words or phrases in Google Books. The n-gram anlo limits by language, in this case I am using English. I went wide with my x-axis, showing everything 1800-2000, but when you try your own out, you can limit the dates.

    I started out in our industry; design for business. It was neat to see the entry of advertising into books around the 1900s, but what was really interesting was that design passed art in usage somewhere in the early 80s. The fact that design is written about more than art (at least in books) is a conversation that deserves it’s own post because of it’s massive cultural implications. Still, even though I feel art should keep it’s strong position I can’t say I wasn’t a little stoked to see design on the rise.

    Using it in your Business

    Generally this kind of data is much more useable on a tiny scale, data about what people are talking about this month, week, or even TODAY can be very useful in capturing business. If you have a business that tracks longer term social trends, I could see this being an extremely valuable tool.

    Try your own search, and then tell us what you found in the comments!

    Video – How to Get $0.01 Facebook Likes

    This Video is a good primer on how to set up facebook ads to get the cheapest possible Likes from ads.

    Genghis walks us through setting up an ad, choosing effective creatives, and setting our bid for getting the cheapest possible likes.

    Here at nomBat I  have had great success using a strategy very similar to this for a couple of clients, If you would like some help setting up your own Ad campaign on facebook, please give me a call, Jon – 831-471-5151.

    Key Points:

    • Before you publish
      • Make sure you are using photos on your page
      • Include a call to action in your photo posts
      • (Comment Share and Like)
    • Publishing Your Ad
      • Use a photo that REALLY stands out
      • Use photos with vibrant colors
      • Avoid Blues, especially those that match Facebook’s own design
    • Writing Your Ad Title
      • Capitalize the first letter of every word
      • Keep your title very short and to the point
      • Use a short question, people can’t resist questions
    • Writing Your Body Copy Text
      • Use a call to action that supports or answers the question
      • Targeting Your Market
      • Don’t fall for thinking that targeting is SUPER EASY
      • Be Careful and research your market – don’t guess
    • Researching Your Target Market
      • Use Google to find forums or a site that is very active in your niche
      • Look up that site on Quantcast to find your niche demographics
        • (Quantcast demographics are in the right have side bar navigation)
      • Add the targeted demographic info you found using Quantcast to your Ad campaign
    • Paying For Clicks
      • Manually bid for CPC
      • Set Bid to minimum for now
      • I also ALWAYS set a maximum bid ($5-10 per day is usually plenty for this type of campaign)
    • After you publish
      • Watch your Ad
      • After a couple of days, drop the cost to $.01

    After you set your campaign we would love to hear how your results worked out, please leave a comment here on this post, or send me a message here: Contact nomBat