8 Types of Advertising Design with Tips and Examples

Hiba Amin
Hiba Amin
February 3 | 8 min read
8 Types of Advertising Design with Tips and Examples

Back in the “Mad Men” days, many ads were created based off hunches, assumptions or gut feelings. But, in a time where people are inundated with pop ups, banners, and billboards, you really need to do your homework if you want your ads to succeed. With so much data readily available to marketers and designers alike, it’s crucial that you put in the time to research the best approach for your campaign and let that data drive the direction you take with your advertising design.

What is advertising design? It’s the intersection of marketing and design. It refers to the visual artwork created specifically for advertisements (or, simply, “ads”). Ad design, which is usually used synonymously with graphic design advertising, differs in the fact that its sole purpose is to sell products and services.

When it comes to your ads, there are so many options for you to leverage, from digital channels like email marketing to traditional channels like magazine ads. In this guide, we’ll be walking through 8 forms of advertising design, with examples to help inspire your next campaign.

Types of Advertising Design with Examples

Video and Commercial Ads

Until 2006, you would generally only find this type of ad on TV. However, when YouTube gained its popularity (accounting for 60% of internet traffic), innovative brands like Nike saw an opportunity to break through the noise and advertise through online videos.

Now, video ads live everywhere; on Youtube, Instagram, TV, blogs, and so much more. Generally, video ads are a bigger investment because they often require a lot more production than traditional images or even graphic design. However, when done right the results can be worth the investment.

There are many studies around the effectiveness of video in advertising, such as brands experiencing a 20-30% increase in conversion rates when their Facebook ads used video instead of stills. It’s hard to ignore the power of video!

With a larger investment, you want to make sure you’re using your money wisely. Not only should the message resonate with your audience, but how you’re portraying that message is equally as important.

One of the best ads to come out of 2019 (and also one of the biggest brand flex’s) is Doritos’ “Another Level” commercial. The brand completely dropped their logo, but we’re extremely creative in their use of brand elements to make it known it was a Doritos commercial, including:

  • Iconic and unique chip bag colours
  • Heavy focus on the “cheese dust” that you get when eating these chips
  • Rhyming their brand name with “I need those”
  • Clever use of the triangle chip shape throughout the ad

Display Advertisements

Display ads can be found on websites, apps and social media channels, and are created in a variety of formats, including:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Or a mix of multiple mediums

Generally, this advertising medium garners a high volume of impressions, but a low volume of click-through-rates. A lot of the time, this is because people don’t even notice your ad. When it comes to this channel, advertising design can make or break your success. Often, display ads are trying to win views and clicks in an already stimulating environment. That’s why it’s so crucial to design something that’s visually captivating to your audience (because if it isn’t, people won’t be clicking your ad).

An example of a great display ad campaign is join.me’s. Not only are their ads consistent with their brand, but they contrast well against white, which you’ll notice webpages with this type of ad have a lot of.

display advertisement example

Image source: Bannersnack

DESIGN TIP: Think about the context in which your ad will be displayed in, and find ways to make it visually different or noticeable. For example, adding motion graphics to your design may gain you more clicks!

Social Media Ads

Depending on your business model, social media ads offer a massive opportunity to bring leads and sales through the door. But when the norm on social media is just to mindlessly scroll through your feed, creating ads that capture a viewer’s attention is critical to your campaigns success; luckily that’s easily achieved with good design!

OpenCare has been popping up like crazy when it comes to social media ads (and they’re killing it!). What makes their social ads so great?

  • The images they use are visually exciting
  • Their brand is consistently visualized across every ad
  • They mix their ads up between images and video
  • Their advertisements are very on-trend (like the example below, hopping on the Disney+ wagon)
social media ad example

When it comes to social media advertisements, it's important to really understand your audience. What accounts do they follow? What do those feeds look like? How does that relate to your businesS? Find a way to both blend your ad in so that it feels natural in their feed, while capturing attention in under 3 seconds.

Oh, and don't be afraid to test different creatives and copy to see what sticks!

Direct Mail

Being one of the more traditional mediums for advertising, direct mail is able to cut through the clutter that is the internet. However, design mistakes here are extremely costly (I know from experience). You not only need to be 100% about your design… You need to make sure it looks good on paper, because once you hit print, there’s no going back.

Here are some great direct mail advertising design ideas to help get you started:

  • Provide a discount for your product or services
  • Share the news about a new product you’re launching
  • Use it to upsell or cross sell like the beautifully designed BMW direct mailer
direct mail ad example

Image source: Postary

DESIGN TIP: When printing anything, ensure that your brand colors are displayed correctly — you may need to use CMYK or Pantone skus. Make sure to ask your print provider.

Outdoor Ads

Billboards, street furniture, and transit ads—they’re all different kinds of outdoor ads. So, how do you capture the attention of passerbyers who are likely glued to their phone screens? With creative ads that engage your audience. When you’re creating an outdoor ad campaign, a pretty poster design isn’t enough. You need to engage people so much that they’re taking the action you intended them to take — such as buy a product with your promo code, visit your website, and so on.

Sometimes, advertisers will use promo codes on these displays to help measure the overall effectiveness of the ad. This is smart, considering tracking outdoor ads is much less clear than digital where marketers can see anything from clicks, views, and saves, to subsequent purchases and website visits.

Out of all of the advertising design examples in this blog, my favourite has to be Casper’s puzzle ads, which were placed all over public transit vehicles. Not only did they get commuters thinking and engaging with their ad, they enticed them enough to go back to their website for puzzle answers and mattress purchases with promo codes.

outdoor ad example

Image source: Adweek

Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to deliver a strong return on investment considering that for every $1 you spend on this channel, you can expect an average return of $42. But, with so many promotional emails in a person’s inbox, it’s important to create a visually compelling message that drives your audience to take action.

So, how do you design an advertisement for email? Look at how the top companies do it! Take Warby Parker, for example — their email advertisement examples are everywhere because they’re amazing at it. Their emails are beautifully designed with a very clear call-to-action.

email marketing ad example

Image source: Mailcharts

DESIGN TIP: Try not to stuff too many CTAs into your promotional emails. In fact, keeping it to only 1 is optimal, as seen with the above Warby Parker example.

Event Advertising

What better to connect with your audience than face-to-face? Event advertising can be anything from sponsoring an event, all the way to running your own. It’s critical to keep your branding in check and find ways to draw people in when doing any event advertising. From signage that is smartly designed, to crafty handouts and prizes, make sure whatever you create holds true to your brand guidelines.

There is so much to think about when it comes to event advertising, so to help get you started, here are some creative advertising ideas:

  • Create a photo booth at a trade show and get attendees to share their pictures on social with a special hashtag
  • Hand out creative branded items that stray away from pens, stress balls, or business cards
  • Create a contest encouraging people to come to your booth for a chance to win
  • Host a breakfast for your power users and high-value customers

Event advertising example

Image source: Tigris Events

Here are a few different types of event advertising designs to consider:

  • Pamphlets
  • Signage
  • Banners
  • Photobooths
  • Display booth
  • Branded pens, buttons, water bottles, etc

Newspaper and Magazine Ads

This is the final medium of advertising design that we will walk through today. Newspaper and magazine ads can be extremely effective when both the message and design translate the way you intend it to. A company that has completely knocked this medium out of the park is clothing company Patagonia.

Creating a Black Friday marketing campaign that stands out can be extremely tough because there are so many — everyone and their grandma wants to advertise on Black Friday! Not only did Patagonia stand out with their “Don’t buy this jacket” campaign, but they stayed true to their values of sustainability.

newspaper and magazine ad example

DESIGN TIP: Do your research. Make sure that your audience not only consumes this medium, but that you’re advertising in the right magazine or newspaper. You likely wouldn’t advertise your newest lipstick line in Men’s Health, afterall?

Advertising Design Tips

  • Tell a story: Don’t underestimate the value of great storytelling. Just be sure that your story visually translates to your audience.
  • Always have a CTA: Unless your campaign’s goal is to increase brand awareness, always, always, always have a call-to-action. It’ll let your viewer know what they should do next.
  • Keep is simple: If your ad is too complicated, chances are you’ll confuse your audience. If you need some inspiration, check out these design styles.
  • Choose short and punchy copy: With advertising design, the focus should be on the design itself. Use engaging copy to support the story that your visuals are telling.
  • Take advantage of the holiday season: During major holidays like Christmas and Valentines Day, people are more willing to buy and more importantly be sold to. Holiday ads should always be top of mind.

When you create an ad, you’re creating an extension of your brand. Thousands, if not millions, of people will see your ad so make sure it’s conveying the message and brand that you want it to (like Patagonia!). Remember that copy will tell your story with words, but great design will bring that story to life.

Great advertisements are centered around great design. So, I’ll leave you with some final thoughts. When you’re approaching your next advertising design campaign, remember to:

  • Be memorable
  • Stay true to your brand and its values
  • Have a clear message
  • Set goals and KPIs for your campaign

If you need help with your advertising design, Superside can help. With turnaround times as little as 12-24 hours, think of us as your extended design team. Book a call to learn more.

Hiba Amin
Written by
Hiba Amin
Hiba is a writer and content marketer living in Toronto, Canada. She’s very involved in the Toronto tech community, passionate about management and a lover of dogs.

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