Developer Advertising Guide

Good ads speak directly to developers in their language, focused on the benefits of using your product.

Marketing to developers is a unique challenge, and developer advertising in particular is difficult to get right. Our guidelines below are some of the best practices we've found from running hundreds of developer-focused campaigns on our ad network.

Following this guide will ensure you great engaging ads with great click-through rates. Pairing that with great landing pages will ensure a success campaign. When you work with us, we ensure you follow this process. For design specifications and screenshots of ads, see our ad specs page.

Below are our top recommendations for your developer ad campaign.


Creating great developer ads

There are many factors to successful display advertising. Compelling branding and 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

Great ads often include not only the benefits of the product, but also have industry specific phrasing that grabs the attention of 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.
  • A competitive discount.

This informs the viewer of what to expect to see on the linked landing page after clicking the ad.

Honed targeting

Developers come in all shapes, sizes, and specialties, only some are a perfect fit for your product or service. To get the most out of your campaign:

  • Make sure your geographic targeting matches the location of your desired customers.
  • Target a specific topic that's relevant to your business.
  • Craft a specific ad for each region of interest.

These tips will help increase the click-through rate of your ads, and the likelihood of those users resulting in conversions.

Multiple ad variations

When you run a campaign we recommend having 3-4 ad variations, especially for larger campaigns. This allows you to test the performance of different marketing messages and ad images. Then you can create iterations of your top-performing ads, and disable your lowest performing ads for better click-through rates. 2 weeks into your campaign we'll reach out with a note on how to adjust your ads to improve performance.

Fresh images and copy

The performance 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 will keep your ads from getting stale.

In terms of high-performing ad images we have a few recommendations:

  • Conversion-focused campaigns: Use simplified product screenshots, workflow diagrams, or other ad images that showcase the product.
  • Brand advertising: Include your logo somewhere in the ad image and product name in the ad copy. This can also include screenshots or workflows, or a large brand image.
  • All campaigns: Take inspiration from your landing pages for the ad images. This keeps things consistent and is an easy way to pair ad copy with the landing page.

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

Measuring conversions

Rather than using pixels or beacons which are frequently blocked by ad or tracker blockers, we recommend adding UTM parameters to your landing page links. This keeps your measurements simple and lets you easily compare the conversions you're seeing from us against other networks you're using. We are confident in our performance and know the results will speak for themselves.

We also have a few variables you can use in your landing page links in order to capture data about the publisher where the ad was clicked or the specific advertisement:

  • ${publisher_slug} is used to insert the slug of the publisher
  • ${publisher_name} is used to insert the name of the publisher
  • ${advertisement_slug} is used to insert the name of the ad that was served
  • ${advertisement_name} is used to insert the name of the ad that was served

The slug variable is useful because it doesn't change when the name of the publisher or ad changes. It's a lowercase representation of the name with spaces replaced by hyphens, generated when the publisher or ad is created.

For example, using the landing page link below would let you measure EthicalAds as a whole as well as different publishers and specific ad creatives:${advertisement_slug}&utm_content=${publisher_slug}

Our advertiser platform will measure all performance metrics before a user clicks-through to your landing page like the number of impressions and click-through rate (CTR) your ads receive.

Optimizing conversions

Having developers click on your ad is only half the battle. Once users arrive at your landing page, you want the visitor to take 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 the user to click, so use similar wording and images on your 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.

Collaborate with us to get great results

Our account managers will work with you to ensure the success of your campaign with our in-depth guidance:

  • Initial audit: Before your campaign launches we look over your ads and give ideas for ad iterations based on what we've seen work in the past.
  • Two-week check in: After we get click-through data on your ad variations, we conduct additional analysis to recommend which ads to disable, and new iterations of your highest performing ads.
  • Campaign Wrapup: At the end of your campaign, we will share an analysis of how your campaign performed overall, and suggestions for next steps to continue iterating on your marketing goals.
  • Video Overviews: For campaigns over $15k/qtr, we provide custom video reports of your campaign that walk through your performance and any additional feedback that we have on your campaign.

We are also available at any time during your campaign for feedback and suggestions on how to tweak your campaign to improve performance, along with our proactive outreach.

Learn more about our full service approach to advertising.

Examples of some top developer 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 it 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 click-through rate was 4x better than our average 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.


Our friends over at Developer Markepear have a wonderful in-depth guide to developer advertising that we also recommend. They focus on a number of different channels, and share some insight.

Additional questions?

Our Advertiser's FAQ will help answer more of your specific questions around our product. You can also email us with suggestions or feedback.

Become an advertiser

Start your campaign today!