Setting up and optimizing your ads on Google’s Display Network can be a tricky process with a steep learning curve. And often, that learning curve comes at the heels of a wasted ad budget.
But that doesn’t always have to be the case.
If you’re spending any money at all on banner ads, one of the best ways to stave off losing money on your efforts is to know what size images you should be using.
While it may seem like all banner images are created equal, the truth is that not all of them are going to net you the best bang for your buck.
So in this article, we’re going to go over some of the best image size options for marketers on the Display Network.
But first, let’s look a little closer to see if the size of your image really does matter.
Does Google Ads Size Really Matter?
When you’re going through the process of putting up a banner ad on the Display Network, one of the many considerations that you’ll need to address is the size of the image you use.
While it would be nice if you could just design an ad and leave it at that, advertising is rarely so simple.
On the Display Network, the websites that publish your ads ultimately have control over which size ad gets featured. So if they want banner images on the sides, top, or bottom of their site, then you wouldn’t want to try to publish everything as a half-page ad.
Choosing the wrong size will effectively limit how much reach your campaigns have. And if you’re trying to target a specific niche, this could make your ads ineffective altogether.
And studies have shown that certain ad sizes do tend to get more impressions than their counterparts:
That means in most cases, ads that are the 300×250 and 728×90 sizes will get the most eyeballs on any given day.
From a quick glance, that would make them seem like the best options if you want to get your ad on as many sites as possible.
While that may be partially true, it’s only half of the picture that shows you why size does matter.
You have to remember that successful advertising isn’t about impressions. You also want people to click your ads, which is where some deeper considerations on image size come into play.
But therein lies another issue. Banner ads don’t always get great CTRs, especially when compared to the Search Network.
While they’re not perfect, they can severely hurt you if you only use the common 300×250 and 728×90 sizes.
The key takeaway though is that one or two image sizes aren’t going to get you everything you need.
Some sites want smaller images, and others want larger. Some users are going to block your banner-sized ads but will miss larger or smaller variations.
The only solution is to prepare and optimize as much as possible.
But there’s one other consideration with ad sizes that you need to know about, and it has to do with mobile devices.
Since 2013, more and more sites are utilizing mobile Display Network ads. Current statistics report that businesses win at least $10 billion in annual sales through mobile banner ads alone.
That’s a pretty significant chunk of business, and if the trend stays steady, we’ll likely see more growth in the coming years.
That means you need to keep mobile in mind as you create your images and choose what size to use.
As of right now, the most popular mobile sizes are very different than the images we saw in the chart above.
So all things considered, there are a ton of variables at play when choosing an ad size.
At the very least we can conclusively say that the size you do choose will be important.
It can affect where you place your ad, how often users view it, and even whether or not it will show on the mobile Display Network.
The Best Google Ads Sizes
To find the top performing Google banner ad sizes, we need to look no further than Google’s own report.
According to their research, there are five primary ad sizes to consider when you’re building out a campaign for the Display Network.
If you have to keep a limited approach, it’s recommended to at least create for these five image sizes:
As you can see, these banner images aren’t necessarily all in one place.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each and see where they shine as well as try to highlight a few examples found in the wild.
Ad Size #1: 300×250
This image size is known as the “medium rectangle” size, and as we saw earlier is one of the most widely-used banner ad sizes on the Internet.
Here’s an example provided by Google:
As you can tell, it’s relatively compact and doesn’t take up much space compared to taller options like the 300×600.
That’s part of what makes it a favorable option for so many publishers.
Another plus is that this type of ad usually gets embedded in the text, which eliminates the possibility of banner blindness.
This phenomenon is when users ignore banners because they think ads will be there.
So availability and in-text placement make this an excellent option for many advertisers. If you’re new to banner ads, this is a great place to start.
Ad Size #2: 336×280
Our second ad type is called the “large rectangle.”
This ad image variety doesn’t get quite as many impressions as the previous one, but it still tends to have a large range of sites and publishers that like to use it.
Here’s an example of one we found in the real world:
As you can see, it’s about the same size as the 300×250, but just a touch bigger.
It makes it another good option from brands that want their ad embedded in the text of an article where more eyes can see it.
Ad Size #3: 728×90
This ad size is called the “leaderboard,” as it’s usually displayed prominently at the top of the page it’s published on.
Once again, it’s a good choice for brands that want to have their ad in front of as many eyes as possible.
Here’s another look at how Forbes uses this ad size:
According to Google, this type should always be put at the top of content or on a forum-style site. If you see it elsewhere on a site, you may want to opt out of having your ad placed there.
Ad Size #4: 300×600
This ad size is often called the “half page” size, even though it doesn’t quite cover up a full half page.
The purpose is to give advertisers a little more elbow room to get their message across. As you’re taking up more space, you’ve got a better shot at drawing the eye and getting a click.
Here’s an example of a 300×600 ad from a recent Forbes article:
As you can see, it displays prominently against the copy and imagery on the post and gives you more of a chance to stand out against it.
If you place these strategically, you can get some good results.
And according to Google, this format is currently among the fastest growing sizes by impressions due to its ability to provide more visual impact.
If you’re hanging your hat on banner ads, this could be the size you need.
Ad Size #5: 320×100
This ad size is called the “large mobile banner,” and they recommend it in lieu of the shorter or taller 320×50 or 300×250 options.
Here’s a screenshot view of a few different 320×100 banners:
As you can see, they fit comfortably on the screen and don’t detract much from their surroundings. And since they’re smaller, they make a great choice across any mobile device.
Plus, they offer a little more visibility than the shorter “leaderboard’ images on mobile devices. All things considered, this may be the best choice for mobile ads.
Which Size Should You Use?
Now that you know about the various ad image sizes, the last question to tackle is simple: Which one is best?
The honest answer is that while the overall statistics point toward the 300×250 and 728×90 sizes, there’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
There are too many variables.
Since ad publishers ultimately decide the size of the banner ads on their site, you should use that as the first phase of your planning.
Find sites in your niche that use banner ads, and then see what they offer.
But more importantly, don’t just sit back and let your banner ads run unattended. Test them, just like you would an ad on Google’s Search Network.
By split-testing different iterations of your ads, you can slowly improve your click-through rates and yield better results over time.
While Display Network ads do get lower click-through rates than ads on the Search Network, there’s a much greater emphasis on creating something visually engaging.
That means you have to craft your text, pick the right fonts, and possibly even animate your image.
And you can test everything about your images. You can test the image size for the results that fit you best. Or, you can test the copy to ensure that you’re capturing your audience’s attention.
You can even test the color of your ad based on what type of emotion you’re trying to evoke from your viewer.
Basically, you can and should test any part of your image. It’s the only way to truly improve and make the best decision about your ad in the long run.
It’s also a good idea to try to make your image in as many sizes as you reasonably can.
While that may sound like an obnoxious boondoggle, there’s a pretty good reason for it known as stretching.
Stretching is when Google takes an image of one size and enlarges or condenses it to fit a different image block.
For example, in the image below, Google takes a 160×600 image and overextends it to fit a 300×600 ad. The end result means there’s no empty space, but the ad isn’t an exact match to what the parent company wanted to display:
And the results could be a lot worse than the example given. If you have any faces or imagery that won’t do well when stretched, this could be a humiliating error.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to fully opt-out of this. It could happen to any of your ads, which isn’t a good thing.
The only solution is to try to have as many ad sizes created as possible so you can be sure your ad will look good no matter where it’s run.
And keep in mind that these image sizes won’t always be the same as your social media ad images.
Make sure you don’t get lazy and assume that your Facebook ads will work flawlessly on the Display Network.
It’s also a good idea to consider how you optimize your mobile banner ads as well. Studies have shown that ad placement on mobile devices makes a significant impact on how the overall message is received.
While this is largely up to the publisher to place these ads, you can manage the sites your ads are targeted to. This means you can avoid poorly optimized mobile ad placements and opt for a website that may suit your needs better.
Good content and good design should work together, after all.
And perhaps the most important thing you can do is stay updated on the news from Google Ads.
With each year, Google likes to change and improve their ad platform to provide a better experience for both brands and users. Staying in the know can mean the difference between a successful ad and one that flops.
While setting up your ads can be a tricky, tedious process, you shouldn’t get tripped up by having the wrong size image in your banner ad.
That could be embarrassing, lead to fewer clicks, and make your brand seem unprofessional.
And size does matter. It matters for impressions, clicks, and on mobile devices.
You can’t just create one image and hope it works for everything.
You need to cash in on the recommended image sizes if you want to succeed. While they won’t guarantee a click, they will ensure that your ad looks and performs better on the page.
But don’t just stop at the recommendations. There are dozens of ad sizes out there, and it may benefit you to experiment with them all.
And don’t just stop with sizes. Remember to play around with copy, color, and everything else as well.
Then, when you put all of this together, you’ll have a banner ad that gets thousands of impressions and has an optimized click-through rate.