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By Sofie Farthing

Creating The Perfect Display Ad

Last Updated 6 Apr 2020

Creating display ads can feel hit or miss. Sometimes they work and you get great conversion numbers at a low price, and sometimes they flop – getting a super low reach and a costly conversion rate. But there’s a rhyme and reason to the randomness of it, and we knew if we could pinpoint what made a perfect financial services display ad, we could replicate that success time and time again.

So we put in the work, did the research, and we’ve created this handy guide with tips and tricks to help you out. The research itself was pretty tricky – it took creating our own ads for a financial services customer (CIA Landlord Insurance) and monitoring what worked and what didn’t work, as well as analysis of competitor’s ads.

This guide will talk you through our process – so you know you can trust our findings – and then tell you how to create your own perfect financial services display ads, as well as showing you our final ads for CIA Landlord Insurance that we came up with based on our research.

The Research

Before starting competitor analysis and taking the time to analyse our own ads, we pinpointed the factors that we thought made up an ad in order to figure out what successful ads had in common. This is what we came up with:

  • Logo
  • Imagery
  • Format (static image, carousel, gif etc)
  • Call to action
  • Copy (competitive sales message to convince the user to click through)
  • Review widget (e.g trustpilot) being present in ad

We also knew that in order to do accurate, helpful research, we had to account for the industry and sector behind each ad, as well as what kind of customer the ads were targeting (e.g new customers, lapsed customers, or frequent/returning customers). Trying to pinpoint an end goal for the ads we looked at was also helpful, although for our competitor’s ads it was mostly conjecture. Our goal for CIA Landlord’s ads was increasing conversion by increasing clicks through from social media to the site (specifically the quote page).

We then compiled a data sheet with findings from our own ad developments and our competitor analysis. All of the below findings are most relevant for ads in insurance or a similar sector, but could be applied to other financial services ads too.

Our Findings


It may sound self-explanatory, but your ads need a logo. Not only is it eye-catching, but it strengthens your brand and aids in brand recognition. The importance of having an eye-catching, recognisable logo can’t be understated – so use that logo to your advantage.

You’ll know if you’re a social media user that you’ll often see multiple different ads from one company whilst scrolling through your feed. Displaying your logo helps your users to identify that all these ads have a common thread, which may further prompt them to interact with your ads.

Imagery and format

Imagery is pretty simple. To put it plainly – any imagery used needs to align with your branding and be well suited for your audience. Easy, right? It also needs to not clash with your logo or distract from your call to action (CTA) and any copy that is present on your ads.

In terms of imagery for our CIA Landlord ads, we used an iPhone image as our main asset. This is relatable as these ads will be displayed on desktop and mobile. The mobile screen on the smaller sizes shows all of the necessary information, and on the taller ads, it shows a screen of the complete process (see images below). This design ensured that the ad would look great on any size screen, as well as being a signal to the audience that the quote system from CIA was easy.

In terms of format, there are a few ways you can display your ads:

  • Carousel
  • Static Imagery
  • Gif

Static imagery tends to be the simplest and the easiest to create – as you only really need to create the ad as an individual asset. You could also make the argument that a static image should be enough for an ad, because if you want people to look through a carousel of images then the first image has to be engaging – and if it’s engaging then it might as well be a static image.

However, there are pros to using a carousel. You can display more content – which could help with engagement and user experience, as well as being able to display user reviews as a slide in the carousel rather than as part of a static image.

It essentially comes down to what’s best for your audience and how much information you think your display ad needs to show. If you feel it necessary to display a lot of info, then it’s better to use a carousel then a static image that may look too busy.

Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a marketing term which is used to help persuade the user to click through onto a link. It’s designed to convert a user into a customer by encouraging them to click the button which will then promote a sale or response. The language used is persuasive such as; ‘call now’, ‘get a quote’ or ‘receive a call back’. It’s designed to increase conversion across the website or ad.

But remember the call to action (CTA) needs to work with the ad goal. So if your goal is for your customers to click through to a page, then the extension needs to be a click-through link. If you wanted your users to call you directly, then you would change the extension of the CTA to a click to call to increase conversion of the users.

The CTA needs to have the appropriate message as well to increase a click-through rate. Within the financial industry, ‘get a quote’ is a very popular message. We found it across 90% of the finance ads we reviewed.


The copy included in your ad is one of the most important components. It should be snappy, impactful, and give the user a reason to click the CTA. The message we chose for our client, CIA Landlord Insurance was ‘We won’t be beaten on price’. This was used on one of our more successful ads in terms of cost per conversion.

Another possibly self-explanatory but also challenging aspect of creating display ads is ensuring the text is legible but also doesn’t take up too much of the ad. Facebook’s restrictions don’t allow more than 30% of an ad to be text – which is a good guideline for all display ads. However, making sure this is still legible on smaller screens of small/narrow ads definitely creates a challenge.

This means that when coming up with the copy you want to put on your ad you need to think short and sweet – so you can have the text be relatively large and still take up less than 30% of the ad.


Review Widget

If you’ve ever checked the reviews for an experience, product or service before buying, you know that poor reviews can sway you very quickly. Including a review widget in an ad (we found Trustpilot to be the most popular although obviously you can use Google reviews,, or Feefo) acts as a trust signal for the user.

Our Ads

When creating our ads, we made sure to pay attention to our findings, and include:

  • A logo for brand recognition
  • Trustpilot widget used as a trust enabler
  • Competitive sales message to convince the user to click through
  • Call to action with appropriate copy to convert the user into a customer

We hope this research gives you some clear insight into the components of successful landing page ads – we know we’ll use it when we create our ads in the future as a reminder about the way perfect ads are structured. Hopefully our visuals will help display our thought process and research.

If you need a hand creating display ads, get in touch with a member of the ASSISTED. team and see what we can do for you.