A display ad is still a relevant way of promoting one’s music—especially combined with sponsored social posts.

Creating a successful display ad is not easy, though, and as the editor-in-chief of I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, I often see banners that could be optimized.

Here are 6 tips to help you create better display ads and integrate them in your digital marketing strategy.

1. Be consistent

Do you already have an album cover? Use it in a form or another.

Does your ensemble/organization have branding guidelines? Use them: Typography, logo, palette, etc.

In the end, you will want to limit the disconnect between your display ad and what you are promoting. Unless this is part of your campaign, it is good practice to avoid any surprises from an ad to a landing page.

2. Limit your copy

There is only so much text you can fit in an ad—even a leaderboard or a half page (learn about standard ad sizes and their names).

But then should you even have so much copy? Try to boil down your unique value proposition to a few words. The competition for eyeballs is fierce and you have less time than you think to share your message.

3. Use a call-to-action

Pretty ads are great, but you don’t want people to just look at them. Make sure to insert a call-to-action.

Think of your call-to-action as an answer to: “Cool story. What should I do now?”

Are you selling tickets? Invite people to buy one. Is your latest album out: Invite people to listen to it—or to buy it.

And never, ever, ever use click here.

4. Test what works

The best way to learn what works is probably to A/B test your ads. Note that you’ll need a lot of traffic to get significant results.

Note that there is also a wrong way of running A/B tests…

5. Think about your funnel

This is something that I often see: An album display ad that sends directly to iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, etc.

I am not sure this is the best way to go, and for a variety of reasons:

  • The moment you send a visitor to iTunes, etc. you are not really in control of the narrative anymore. Visitors land on an album page that looks awfully like somebody else’s album page except for the (tiny) cover and some copy.
  • By sending visitors to a property you don’t own, if they are not interested, they are more likely to simply leave. You’ve lost them.

If you send people to a landing page on your website:

  • You are in control of the narrative: layout, branding, press quotes, etc.
  • Visitors are a click away from following you on social, subscribing to your newsletter, finding a concert near them, etc.

6. Tag your URLs

This is particularly important if you are sending traffic to your own website and use Google Analytics.

By (UTM) tagging your URLs, you’ll know how much traffic your ad is bringing and what people are doing on your site once they’ve clicked on it. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, the company Google bought and turned into Google Analytics.

Check out this URL builder to help you tag your URLs, and read my post about UTM parameters: UTM Parameters: What Musicians Need to Know.

Bonus: Need some inspiration?

Besides its innovative brand analytics, MOAT also offers a great resource for advertisers through its searchable display ad database. Look for some big names and see what people are doing.

About Thomas Deneuville

Thomas lives in Freeville, NY with his wife and two sons, where he reads, codes, and plays the bagpipe.