The report is live!

We’re happy to announce that we’ve finally released a free report that we’ve been working on for months.

It’s called “The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Ads for Design Sites.”

It started based on some internal conversations we were having when we were trying to come up with a good answer to one of the most common questions we got from new advertisers – “what works?”

To figure out a good answer, we started researching.

We went through the performance data of ALL the ads that ran on Design*Sponge over the past year, digging through the data for trends.

The key questions we set out to answer were:

  • What did the ads that performed the best have in common?
  • What did the ads that didn’t do so well have in common?

You can get a copy of it here.

(You might also be able to get it from that form on the right…)

Read it, and let us know what you think in the comments!


The Design*Sponge Ad Team


  1. Natalie M.

    on 17th Aug, 10 02:08pm

    As someone who is trying to self-educate on all things advertising/marketing, this blog is very welcome on my daily reads!

    Thank you for all the information so far (I went back and read all the posts). I’m currently waiting on my free report :)

    reply to this comment

  2. Kari

    on 17th Aug, 10 06:08pm

    A great resource… but while talking about good advertising, shouldn’t it take less than 7 steps to get to the final product? (link from D*S to this site, link from this site to sign up page, link from sign up page to “better” sign up page, email, verification of email, response to email, download) :)

    reply to this comment

    • admin

      on 17th Aug, 10 11:08pm

      Hi Kari,

      Glad you liked the report – sorry it took you so many steps to get to it. Let me explain why/how that is.

      Step 1 – Design*Sponge links to advertising blog – Grace was announcing the blog as well as the report available on it, so it would have been tough for us to skip this one…
      Step 2 – Arrive on advertising blog. Report is available immediately on the site so you can have it right on that page by entering your email address, unless you’d like to learn more about it first (many people aren’t comfortable entering their email addresses when they’re not buying something).
      Step 3 – (optional) – Arrive on report information page to learn more before signing up
      Step 4 – receive confirmation email/confirm interest – this is done to ensures that you are receiving the report/giving your email address out voluntarily, prevents you from involuntarily being added to a mailing list you don’t want to be on. This is relatively standard practice when an email is exchanged for a download. It is optional on our part, but it is important to us to make sure anyone we email gives us expressed permission to do so. This ensures that.
      Step 5 – upon confirmation, you are re-directed “Thank You page” containing a one click-download link to the report. (The a similar link is simultaneously emailed to you for your reference and as a backup.)

      So I count 4 or 5 steps. Either way, I’m sorry if it felt like a lot of “work” to get the report. I can assure you it took a lot more than 7 steps to make it :) I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Fortunately, it won’t be necessary to repeat the process to read the blog or any future articles. We can send future reports to those who’ve already gone through the process. :)

      Thanks for your comment, and please let me know if you have any areas of online advertising you’d like us to cover on the blog or future reports!


      reply to this comment

  3. k.o

    on 18th Aug, 10 08:08pm

    Thank you so much for such a great resource, you’ve made it very easy to understand what works best!

    The one question I have that hasn’t been addressed was, how about if you are not in the US?
    I often thought about buying an ad space in D*S but this is what has been stopping me– do ads show depending on where you are accessing from? If so, how does it work?

    I find that the location is really important when it comes to selling, and I’d like to target the readers from my local area (country).

    reply to this comment

    • admin

      on 19th Aug, 10 12:08am

      Hi K.O.,

      Glad you’re enjoying the guide!

      If you are not in the US, and you do not ship to the US, then many sites will allow you to buy a “geotargeted” ad which you can target to whichever location you choose.

      Some advertisers will send us multiple ads to show in multiple locations.

      How it works is the site displayes the ads with technology that detects the location of the computer that is loading the page. It then only “serves” ads to the page which meet the targeting criteria. So, it is possible to show multiple ads in multiple locations on the same site.

      Let me know if that makes sense to get started. I can write a post or two about “ad serving” which can begin answering this question in more depth.

      It’s a good one.

      Thanks again for your questions and comment!


      reply to this comment

  4. K.O

    on 19th Aug, 10 01:08am

    Thanks for that AC, I will be looking forward to the future post about “ad serving”!

    I do ship to the US and due to the large population that is my biggest target (and where most accesses to my website are from), but it’s not easy to compete when the international shipping and customs tax add a chunk to the cost and lead time, not to mention the security of the parcel.
    I have been to a small-biz consultant and she told me to look into the local market first and foremost… that although we feel there is no border when it comes to the web, the distance is still a great factor in deciding if the product is in a physical form (ie, not data)… hence my question about the location based ad.

    reply to this comment

  5. Elide

    on 20th Aug, 10 02:08pm

    Hello D*S Ad Team,

    I found the most useful tip from the guide was #8, don’t use the same ad on every website you advertise on. So much of what I’ve read states that you should be consistent in your branding, which would make me think I should have a standard ad for all sites. It makes sense though, I imagine design savvy readers are always on the lookout for something new. I also find that when I see an image on a website too many times, it disappears because I tune it out.
    I’m still in the beginning stages of my business and nowhere near ready to purchase advertising space. However, I’m discovering that as I apply and get accepted into craft shows, the organizers request a logo/link to one’s website. This banner is not a paid advertisement, but does bring in traffic from the craft show’s website to your shop. Most of these banners are up for a year until the next show. I guess I’m wondering if making your ad (banner) look like it belongs on the website is something to take into consideration in this case. The banners are not located in a side bar, but typically grouped together in a grid and it can be a lot of visual noise. What is the best way to approach these banner/links?


    reply to this comment

    • admin

      on 20th Aug, 10 05:08pm

      Hi Elide,

      Glad you’re enjoying the guide.

      I must admit that I’m not an expert when it comes to craft show websites, and don’t know which site you’re referring to – so with that in mind, I’d say that the scenario you describe may be an exception. The tip about making your ad look like it “belongs” on the site is really more about protecting the reader’s experience as they browse a CONTENT site. A craft show site is more of a TRADE site, and in that case it may make more sense to have the ad stand out a bit more, because the reader is in more of an “industry” mindset.

      Does that make sense?

      However, if the ads are all clustered together in a “noisy” way, it may be difficult to stand out no matter which approach you take. Ideally, I would start with one ad, and see what your response is like, and then test another one with a different approach and see if the performance improves or gets worse.

      Good luck!


      reply to this comment

  6. awe

    on 26th Aug, 10 09:08am

    Thanks for sharing all of this great information! Your report was very informative, and I look forward to keeping up with the blog. What a great resource!

    reply to this comment

  7. Pink Pig Illustration

    on 27th Aug, 10 04:08pm

    The guide was excellent! I am hoping to take the plunge and go for a banner on Design Sponge, when my online gifts shop is ready. This is so helpful, and I will feel so much more confident about gettting an ad out ther when the time is right.thanks so much

    reply to this comment

  8. decoratorinabox

    on 1st Nov, 10 04:11pm

    I found the top 10 do’s and don’ts of creating ads for design sites to be extremely helpful. Thanks you so much for the advice. It really helped me notice major errors I have been making and need to correct. I look forward to more ad tips!

    reply to this comment

  9. orangeheat

    on 10th Feb, 11 03:02pm

    Thanks for the top ten tips, I’m designing my first ad and it was nice to get some tips so the ad gets more bang for the buckero…

    reply to this comment

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