From apartment Facebook ads to banner ads through Google, display ads often play a central role in a real estate brand’s digital marketing mix. Since we’re a full-service apartment marketing agency here at Threshold, that means we’ve spent a lot of time perfecting our understanding of the design, messaging, and other elements that contribute to effect display ads for apartment marketing campaigns. Today, we’re passing on our must-know tips for real estate display ads.
This article will cover tips for design and messaging dos and don’ts for real estate display ads; it will NOT cover tips for how to target your ads through the various advertising platforms that support display ads (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and so on). If you’re interested in a post of ad targeting tips, let us know by dropping us a line on our contact page or sending us a message on Instagram!
Keep Copy Short and Descriptive for Apartment Display Ads
When your apartment community has so much to offer, it can be challenging to keep your ad messaging short! But there are a number of reasons why it’s essential to stay brief. The primary reason is that short copy is just more effective. Users typically encounter display ads as they go about their normal online lives, and as a result, they have precious little attention to devote to your ad. Ensuring that your ad message can be parsed quickly and effortlessly is essential if you want to work within this limited attention span to reach your qualified audience and earn their clicks.
Speaking of limited attention, copy-heavy ads can crowd out more engaging elements of ad design. Data show that ads with high-quality images and video earn far more clicks and engagements than ads without these features. When you crowd your visuals with copy, you compromise the ability of the visuals to drive this performance boost.
Not only that, but the more copy you include, the less legible your message is likely to be, especially when dealing with smaller ad sizes. Keeping your message short ensures that the copy will be legible across a wide variety of devices and ad placements.
Some platforms even restrict the amount of copy you’re allowed to have on a display ad. When it comes to apartment Facebook ads, for example, apartment marketers have long been working with a restriction called the “20% rule,” which restricted the use of ad images with text on more than 20% of the image. In 2020, Facebook announced that they would be removing this rule, but still recommend that you follow the 20% guideline, as ads with less copy tend to see better results on their platform.
So, given the limited room for ad messaging, what makes for effective real estate ad copy? Most importantly, you need to provide just enough information that it’s clear what the ad is for. Remember, the user is only devoting a few seconds at most to reading your ad, so it needs to be immediately obvious what’s being advertised or you’ll lose out on the people in the audience who might actually be interested to learn more. A headline of about 3 to 5 words (or around 30 characters) is usually best. For example, “Apartments Near UMD” or “Special Rates on Austin Apartments” get to the point quickly and clearly communicate the important information that a user needs to know in order to determine if this offer is relevant to them. You have more flexibility with copy length on certain ad sizes (for example, banner ads can incorporate slightly more copy), but in general, the shorter the better, especially if you want users to click through.
As long as you’ve mastered the short and sweet headline, you may be able to drive more qualified clicks by getting as specific as you can in the space available. For example, if the ad size is large enough to accommodate it, a subheader listing the available floor plan types or a “starting at” price may be beneficial. Where a subheader isn’t possible, just be as specific as you can within the 30 characters or so you have in your headline.
Finally, for ads that feature a CTA Button, keep that short and sweet too. “Apply Now,” “Lease Today,” or “Learn More” works great for apartment display ads.
Use High-Quality, Visually-Engaging Property Photos
We already mentioned that high-quality visuals contribute to better ad results for real estate display ads. But what counts as high-quality? What photo composition elements make an ad visually engaging?
We have an entire article devoted to answering exactly that question, which you can find here. In short, the angle, lighting, and staging of the photo all make a difference, as does the color composition (more on color below). The image should also have a single, clear focal point. If the user isn’t sure where to look, they’re not going to waste time figuring it out, they’ll just scroll right past your ad.
If good photos or renderings aren’t available, lifestyle imagery may work better than using a poor-quality photo. Stock images featuring one or two smiling people who fall into your renter demographic are common options.
Use Bold Colors and High Contrast When Designing Your Real Estate Display Ads
Use bright colors to draw consumer attention to your ad. This is especially important with call-outs and buttons, which should be contrasting colors for high visibility. This doesn’t mean your ad should be garish; a little knowledge of complementing colors can go a long way when you want to use bold colors while still being easy on the eyes. For example, if you use a photo for your banner ad with a blue sky background consider an orange button and orange action text.
Bear in mind, though, that your branding should be consistent between your display ads and the landing page the ad links to, so use brand colors as a starting point. Ensuring that your apartment’s display ads make use of your brand’s colors and fonts make the ad’s look and feel consistent with the website. This also avoids confusing users by making them think they clicked on the wrong link.
Tailor Ad Sizes To the Type of Apartment Display Ad Campaign You’re Running
Some ad sizes statistically perform better than others, but your choice of which ad size(s) to use for your apartment display ad campaign may be more complicated than it appears at first glance. That’s because different ad sizes are better for different goals.
For example, if your goal is to maximize impressions, ads that are 300×250 or 728×90 pixels may be your best bet. However, if your goal is to earn clicks, the highest-performing ad sizes tend to be 336×280 and 300×600 pixels. Let’s break that down a little further. That means that if you’re running an awareness campaign, where impressions are a more important factor, the 300×250 and 728×90 ad sizes may suit you perfectly. However, if you’re hoping to drive immediate leasing results, you need people to actually click through. In this case, 336×280 or 300×600 may be your better choice.
Your best sizing choice may further vary depending on what type of campaign you’re running. For example, smaller ad sizes for retargeting campaigns may work better because the user is already somewhat familiar with your brand and the ad can help you stay top-of-mind no matter how small it is. But for new traffic or lead gen campaigns, larger ad sizes give you a better opportunity to showcase why a user should bother to learn more. The ad size you choose may also depend on the message you need to deliver. If you need more room to accommodate a longer message (say, a special rate on specific floor plans), then a 728×90 banner ad like the one pictured above may work well.
Those are all our top tips for creating effective display ads for apartment marketing campaigns! If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! We’re always happy to talk digital marketing strategy.