Advertising 7 Min Read

Designing Your Next Ecommerce Ad – With Campaign Goals in Mind

Written by Tim Edmundson

The SteelHouse designers have worked on thousands of ecommerce ads – you might even call them experts (we sure do). Our team asked them for a step-by-step guide to designing ecommerce ads that appeal to consumers on every level of the conversion funnel.

Consider Your Campaign Goals

Before you even start designing, you should really have the plan behind your ad in mind. This will help you shape your design to best fit the campaign. Are you going to target cart or page abandoners? Or maybe you are running a flash sale and need to get your ads in front of sale-savvy consumers. No matter what your goals are, the following factors are essential to making any ad campaign a success.

Are you interested in targeting specific, high-converting consumers? We compiled a list of unique ecommerce audiences that we recommend you look at first!


There are several standard channels to consider when designing an ecommerce ad, including desktop, in-app, and mobile. If you aren’t sure where to start, look at where and when your customers are doing their shopping. Mobile in particular is a great addition to any ad campaign – after all, shoppers use their phones throughout the day. In fact, the average American uses their phone for about 4 hours a day, and check their devices at least 150 times. Though actual conversions are less likely on a mobile device, ads on this channel move consumers down the sales funnel towards a more likely conversion on desktop devices. And while 67% of consumers will participate in “digital window shopping” on their smartphones, 77% of those consumers will make impulse purchases as they do. 

With that said, there are also plenty of other channels that you can utilize as well as well. Many consumers browse the internet on their computer each evening while streaming their favorite shows. With over 195 million viewers streaming in the US, this is the best time to advertise your ecommerce brand on Connected TV. The targeting and reporting capabilities of this channel are especially strong, giving you the power to know your ad made it in front of the audience most likely to convert.


There are some standard sizes, but try and design for as many as you can. The IAB usually sets the standards for ad sizes, and you can find their full list of ad sizes here. The SteelHouse ad-builder has an auto-resizer, allowing you to design one ad in order to get the 60+ other sizes your campaign may need.

Let’s Get Down to Design Business

Next up is the fun part – designing your ad. There is a lot of information you will have to pack into one ad, so take your time and make sure you have carefully considered the following factors before finalizing the design.


To keep your ad balanced and effective, make sure your logo has a prominent place – there is no point in designing an ad if the viewer doesn’t know who is serving it. It doesn’t have to be too big, and actually should be one of the smaller elements within the ad. However, our designers emphasized that your logo should be easily seen, so even if the viewer doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at your ad, they are more likely to absorb your brand along with your messaging.

The next element in your ad should be your value proposition. This usually is conveyed using a headline and copy, which focus on one product or message. This element should take up approximately two thirds of the available space – after all it’s the point of your ad!

Then there is the call-to-action, or CTA. Because they are stylistically eye-catching and functional, many CTAs take the form of a button for a viewer to easy click.


Using bright colors will make your ads stand out. A study by Emerald Insights found people make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with products, and 62‐90% of their assessment is based on colors alone. But selecting the colors to use in your ad goes further than that. You are going to want to carefully consider all the factors in your campaign, including branding, the linked page, and even the potential colors of your featured products. 

Ultimately it’s not the colors you choose that will make a difference, but the way they contrast with one another and the colors on the page where your ad is published. Your CTA should be distinctive enough to stand out, but the rest of the ad would best be served by a consistent style guide.

Look to your Brand

Your ad should follow the same styling as the linked page, don’t shock your audience with a jarring transition. Beyond just the colors, which we addressed above, make sure the fonts are complementary to your brand, if not the same, and that you follow a similar image treatment to that of the landing page. And if you have questions about successful landing page designs, we compiled a best practice list for getting started on an ecommerce landing page


When designing an ecommerce ad for a physical product or products, including image of those products is the best way to go. People are more likely to click on an ad if the product they are interested in is visible. This is especially true when the featured products have been personalized for the specific user. According to a study by Bailliance, average order value rose 368% when a user engaged with ads that were personalized for their specific interests and previous searches. And no matter which images you use, make sure they are engaging and high resolution. There is nothing more off-putting to a potential consumer than a low-res ad. A report by Consumer Acquisition found that the images a brand uses in an ad can be responsible for 75%-90% of that ad’s performance.

Unique Formats

There are many ways you can make sure that your ad stands out with uncommon formats. One of the easiest formats that make sure your ad gets in front of the right person at the right time is dynamic ads. These ads are connected to a product feed and use a user’s browsing data to serve an ad customized to their interest. They are also especially useful when retargeting, as dynamic ads allow your campaign to run product images based on the product pages a user visited, along with abandoned cart items.

You can also utilize the power of movement with video ads. Video ads are especially high converting, and viewers are 95% more likely to remember a call to action after watching a video. But our designers know video content can be expensive to produce and many brands chose not to do so. So our SteelHouse Ad builder gives anyone the ability to create animated ads with still images, giving your ad the strength of video without the hassle.

Looking for Recommendations Based on You Industry?

If you are interested in more granular suggestions for designing your ad, check out the recommendations we compiled for the six most common ecommerce industries