A Guide to Developer Advertising

Good ads speak directly to developers in their language with reasons to use your product.

This guide will help you create engaging ads for our audience and make sure those ads perform well when people click them. Our team will work with you to ensure that ad is getting results, and pairing that with a great landing page will make your campaign successful. The page below has suggestions for ad design, as well as how to think about your campaign targeting.

For design specifications and screenshots of ads, see our ad design specs.


Creating great ads

There are many factors to successful display advertising. Compelling branding to optimized landing pages are important, but it all starts with the image and text copy.

For copy to convince the consumer to buy the product, it must do four things:

  • Get attention
  • Communicate
  • Persuade
  • Ask for a response

— Robert W. Bly, "The Copywriter's Handbook"

The average click through rate (CTR) for display ads across our network is around 0.12%. The best ads perform more than three times better than that.

Here are some features of high quality ads:

Informative copy

We've noticed great ads often include not only the benefits of the product, but also have industry specific keywords or phrasing that grabs the attention and resonates with the intended audience. For a DevOps related ad, mentioning Kubernetes or Docker will grab attention. Great ads often feature a brief explanation of the product, a free trial/demo, or feature a competitive discount. This informs the viewer of what to expect to see on the linked landing page after clicking the ad.

The best ads entice the viewer with an offer, and lead to a landing page that compliments the ad copy.

Honed targeting

Making sure your geographic targeting matches the location of your desired customers. Refining your scope by targeting a topic ensures your ad will be seen by the right audience. Developers come in all shapes, sizes, and specialties, only some are a perfect fit for your product or service. Crafting highly targeted ads for each region of interest will help increase the CTR of your ads and the likelihood of those users resulting in conversions.

Multiple formats

Our network supports ads with or without an image. Publishers choose the format that works best for their site, so you'll want to provide both formats so that your ad is shown on all relevant sites across the network. Sometimes if the image isn't conveying critical information to the ad, the same copy can be used both with and without an image. However, if your image contains important context or text, it's much better to craft a second text-only ad that can communicate your message on its own.

Fresh images and copy

The CTR of ads fades slowly over time. This is known as "ad fatigue" and is due to each user seeing the same ad over and over without providing any new images, information, or offers. Swapping ads once every quarter or so will keep your ads from getting stale.

Another way to improve the efficacy of your ads is to try out multiple variants at the beginning of your campaign. Some will invariably perform better than others, and 2 weeks into your campaign we'll reach out with an update on how to adjust your ads to improve performance. This allows you to turn off underperforming ads and craft new ads based on the best performers.

Multiple image and text variations

When you run a campaign we recommend having around 3-4 ad variations per flight. This allows you to test the performance of different marketing messages, as well as ad images.

In terms of ad images here are a few recommendations:

  • For conversion-focused campaigns, we recommend simplified product screenshots, workflow diagrams, or other ad images that showcase the product.
  • For brand advertising, we recommend having your logo somewhere in the ad image & product name in the ad copy. This can also include screenshots or workflows, or a large brand image
  • For all campaigns, it's often useful to look at the landing page for your ads, and take inspriation for the ad images. This keeps things consistent and is an easy way to pair ad copy with the landing page as noted below.

Our SaaS product example example shows a good combination of this approach, but it's worth trying more focused variations as well.

Optimizing conversions

Having developers click on your advertisement is only half the battle. Once users arrive at your landing page, you want the visitor to take a specific action. Here are some key points to help your ads convert visitors to customers:

Pair ad copy with the landing page

Nothing is worse than clicking on an ad and being confused about what is being offered or what the next steps are. The language from your ad motivated this user to click, reassure them with similar wording and images on the landing page.

Set expectations with the ad

In addition to just pairing with the copy, the ad can prepare the visitor for what will be on the landing page. A classic example of this is an ad that features a large discount (eg. "get $100 free credit"). This large discount has set the expectation that the product will be fairly expensive but the credit will give the customer a way to try it out.

Examples of successful ads

Here are some things that have worked well for our advertisers in the past:

SaaS product

A successful SaaS product ad on the EthicalAds network

This example is based on a successful ad used to drive interest to a SaaS product. The ad catches the reader's eye without being flashy, it is technology specific, and the ad makes very clear what problem is being solved. Additionally, the ad offers a free trial which helps to overcome any objections that somebody who needs sales reports from their Django app might have.

Hiring developers

A successful ad aimed at hiring developers on the EthicalAds network

A similar ad was used by an advertiser to hire multiple developers for their team. The ad did a number of things right including focusing extremely narrowly on their target audience. When the ad first launched, the CTR was 4 better than our average, largely because it was so specific. One possible area for improvement would be to introduce the company's branding to reassure applicants that this is first party recruiting.

More questions?

Our Advertiser's FAQ will help answer more of your specific questions around our product.

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