A Guide to Developer Advertising

Good ads speak directly to developers in their language with reasons to use the product or service.

This guide tries to help you to create engaging ads for our audience on the EthicalAds network and make sure those ads perform well once people click on them. For frequently asked questions, see our Advertiser's FAQ.

Optimizing ads through specificity

There are many factors to successful display advertising from compelling branding to optimized landing pages but it pays to not overlook 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 on across the EthicalAds 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 example, for a DevOps related ad, mentioning Kubernetes or Docker will grab attention. The best performing ads manage to reassure the viewer through either a brief explanation of the product, a free trial/demo, or feature a competitive discount which informs the viewer of what to expect to see on the linked landing page after clicking the ad. Set the visitor up for what to expect on your landing page.

Honed targeted

Making sure your geographic targeting parameters match the locations of your desired customers is a good start. Further refining your scope by also targeting a specific topic or keyword ensures your ad will be seen by your potential customers. Developers come in all shapes, sizes, and specialties, only a subset of which are likely to be a perfect fit for your product or service. Crafting speciated, 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 ad formats

Our network supports ads with or without an image. Publishers choose the format that works best for their site, so as an advertiser, you'll want to provide both formats to ensure that your ad can be 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.

Keep ads fresh

We have noticed that the CTR of ads can fade 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 (EthicalAds supports this). Some will invariably perform better than others. You can always turn off any underperforming ads and use whatever is special about the ad that is working well to inform you in crafting your next ad iteration. As Jordan Pritikin, head of email and growth marketing at HubSpot, says, "good marketers listen to their numbers".

Maximizing likelihood of conversion

As alluded to when discussing ad copy and targeting, 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 desired action. We've heard from our most successful advertisers that they've seen conversion rates at or better than 20%.

While there are many books and guides available to help you design a compelling landing page, here are some key points to help your ads convert visitors to customers rather than windowshoppers:

Pair ad copy with landing page copy

Nothing is worse than when one clicks on an ad and is confused as to what is being offered or what the next steps are. The language from your ad motivated this user to click, reassure them with similar verbage up-front on the landing page, so that they know they are getting the content that they clicked through for.

Setting expectations with the ad copy

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 that that credit will give the customer a way to try it out cheaply.

Examples of successful ads

These are not real ads that ran on the EthicalAds network but are based on very successful past ads. ​

SaaS product

A successful SaaS product ad on the EthicalAds network

This example is based on a successful ad run by an advertiser using EthicalAds to drive interest in their 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

​ This example is based on a successful ad run by an advertiser using EthicalAds exclusively 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 this example is based on first launched, the CTR was 4x better than our average. One possible area for improvement would be to introduce the company's branding to reassure applicants that this is first party recruiting.

Get our stories delivered

Want more advertising updates in your inbox?
Sign up for our newsletter.

Your email, after you confirm it, will be stored with Mailchimp who handles this newsletter