What the Best Digital Ads Have In Common

Digital Ads: Best Practices and Examples

By Annie ZelmJul 22 /2021

When was the last time you stopped mid-scroll to click on an ad?

For me, it was a few days ago, when I saw The Peach Truck was making its rounds again for the summer. I bought a box last year and couldn’t resist clicking on the image of perfectly ripe, juicy peaches to pre-order again.

And I was immediately jealous of their marketing team. Why can’t selling software and cloud security solutions be more like selling peaches?

While it’s hard to compare a $40 box of fresh Georgia peaches with buying a $100,000 solution for your organization, there’s a lot B2B companies can learn from consumer digital ads.

Here’s what the best digital ads have in common, regardless of their industry.

The Best Digital Ads: 7 Common Characteristics

1. They stir emotion

While some nonprofits focus on the problem or try to evoke guilt, this ad by Heifer International leads with excitement around the solution.

Seeing how happy these kids are upon receiving something most of us take for granted — clean water — makes us want to get involved.


As you think about how to stir emotion in your digital ads, consider the AIDA model:

  • Attention: What is it that’s going to initially catch someone’s eye?
  • Interest: How is it going to make their lives better?
  • Desire: What’s really going to convince them that they want this?
  • Action: What will make them sign up or order now?

2. They’re eye-catching

This ad by TeamViewer is impossible to ignore. Not only does it take over the entire homepage of CIO.com, but it also uses striking colors and examples of how the technology enhances video calls.


To create visually stunning digital ads, use contrast to draw attention and showcase what you’re selling in the best way possible. If your solution is difficult to show at a glance, sometimes a better approach is to find a creative way to showcase its benefits.

In the case of this learning management software, it’s the ability to learn from anywhere — even from space.


3. They’re highly targeted

This digital ad for a Van Gogh exhibit in Cleveland caught my attention because I happen to love art and it’s within an hour’s drive from where I live. Facebook knows my location, demographic and interests and uses this to target me accordingly.


No matter how many people claim they never go on Facebook anymore, it’s still one of the most effective advertising platforms for this reason — and the fact that it has nearly 3 billion active users.

The specifics of Facebook digital ad targeting will likely change with recent updates that impact tracking and data collection for Apple users. Apple’s new policy prohibits tracking on iOS 14 devices unless they opt-in, which could affect the level of personalization in future digital ads.

4. They use clear, simple language

Mark Twain famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

Writing short, clear and compelling copy takes more thought than writing the first phrase that comes to mind. Every word has to work two or three times as hard, and there’s no room for waste.

The main message of this digital display ad for Okta, an identity protection platform, is just six words: Safe identity you can bank on.  


There’s a lot of meaning packed into that phrase:

  • Your identity will be protected.
  • You can trust us.
  • We’re as reliable as any bank.

And the tagline is just two words: Access possibility.

It’s meant to make you think of everything you could accomplish if you knew the essential task of protecting your customers’ identity was covered.

5. They make your decision seem obvious

There are endless ways we can spend our money, and the best digital ads make a convincing argument in seconds.

This ad for weight loss program Noom breaks down the cost into something that’s easy to grasp: buying a new pair of shoes.

A pair of shoes probably won’t change your life, but better diet and exercise habits will.


The ad also reframes what we think we know about weight loss. We assume it’s about just having the willpower to avoid certain foods when it’s actually the psychology behind the way we think about eating.

Noom positions itself as different from other weight loss programs because it trains you to recognize emotional triggers for overeating (like sadness or boredom) and teaches you to respond in healthier ways.

6. They follow formatting best practices

Writing digital ads for Google is different from writing them for Facebook or LinkedIn. Every platform has distinct best practices for formatting.

For instance, Google text ads have up to three headlines that are no more than 30 characters, followed by two lines of descriptive copy that are no more than 90 characters each and a URL.

You can use Google’s ad preview tool to see how your digital ads will appear when someone searches for one of your targeted keywords.

This ad from iSolved employee benefits software makes it immediately clear what the product is to match the searcher’s intent, but it also uses the headlines to communicate the value. It’s HR that puts people first, including payroll and talent management solutions.  It’s formatted properly so nothing is cut off when it appears in search results.


7. They have a clear call-to-action (CTA)

The best digital ads in the world aren’t worth anything without a strong CTA.

In B2B ads, that CTA is typically something like “learn more” or “request a demo.”

Sometimes that’s the right approach, but there’s room for more creativity. This Hello Fresh ad makes an irresistible offer of 12 free meals, including free shipping.


For solutions that require more consideration, you could offer a free trial, a special discount, or special incentives for referring a friend.

Improving The Performance of Your Digital Ads

Creating visually stunning digital ads with clear, concise messaging and strong conversion rates is a team effort.

It requires discussions about your brand identity and strategy, including your true differentiators and how you can best position yourself against the competition.

Once you’ve established that, you’ll need a strong designer who not only creates attention-grabbing ads but who also knows how to optimize landing pages for the user experience. This typically involves monitoring the way users interact with the page and testing different elements, such as messages and CTA buttons.

You also need experienced digital advertisers who are certified in Google advertising and social media advertising. They should conduct research on the best keywords to target and also be able to test different elements to optimize your budget, such as using cost per impressions or cost per click.

They also need to be aware of how changes in the evolving digital advertising and social media landscape will affect targeting and visibility.

You need a well-designed website that’s optimized for SEO and the user experience, and a content marketing strategy to further educate prospects once you’ve gotten their attention. Track and measure every interaction, from email opens to resource downloads, so you can bring the most qualified leads to your sales team.

If you’re ready to launch digital ads that will get your buyers to stop scrolling and take action, learn more about paid media.


The Author

Annie Zelm

Annie is the driving force behind content strategy for clients. She uncovers insights about what motivates buyers and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars. Annie brings several years of PR experience gained from working at the amusement park, Cedar Point.