Friday, March 4, 2016

6 Tools to Create Free Banner Ads for Your Small Business


 6 Tools to Create Free Banner Ads for Your Small Business
If you’ve ever needed to create a simple banner ad, you might want to try one of these six online tools.  Each of these tools offers an online banner creation service, most free, but some have premium options if you want to upgrade.
As with many things that are free in life, there’s a catch: Most of these sites want your e-mail address.  You also have to put up with annoying sites or special offer popups.  But stay focused and you’ll find all of these  sites offer value and a speedy result.  Whether you are pleased with the result or not is a matter of taste — but the price is hard to beat on these tools.  So let’s get started:
1.Bannersketch is a totally free banner creation service that amazed me with its directory of free templates. The actual service and process was pretty easy, but I could not get it to change the color of the text in the ad–thus, as you’ll see below, white text on a light background. Not very easy to read.
So, I started over and created a very plain text banner. Same problem with the font selection tool, however. If you happen to know the 6-character code for colors you like or want to visit a Web chart, you can go here. Despite my small challenges with Bannersketch, I still recommend giving it a try.  Note: You have to provide your e-mail address to get the code, but you can click the box to opt out of the newsletter.
2. MyBannerMaker.com offers a quick service for do-it-yourself types. I had my choice of animated/flash banners, plain banners (like you see below), insert-your-own-photo and more. At the end, MyBannerMaker asks you to upgrade to a paid plan, but also gives you the option to stay “free.”
I created this very simple banner in 60 seconds. Note: The default size is much larger (728×90) than this, but I had to scale it down to fit our post format.
mybannermaker.com
Animation Online had one of the simplest sites, but only offered 7 or 8 template choices. If you’re in a hurry and don’t mind a basic-looking banner, this site might work for you. [Editor’s Update February 2015: Site appears to be defunct.]
3. 123-Banner is one of my favorites. They create a full flash ad.  I had options to create a plain graphics banner, skyscraper (think tall, tower-type ads, often displayed on the right side of a page), sound ads and more.  We could not get the flash ad to display here, so it is just a snapshot of the flash, but if you can close your eyes and imagine movement and cool bells and whistles, that would be good..
123-Banner
4. BannerCreator.nu — At first glance, this site looked very technical, or at least too detailed for my tired reviewer eyes. But after spending just a few moments studying their site, I grew to appreciate their approach.  Most of the options were dropdown menus or quick color selector options. After entering my text, I could hit Preview and instantly see the result. Then Download and I had my banner. No e-mail, no registration.
BannerCreator.nu
5. Google Display Network — no banner ad creator review would be complete without mentioning the behemoth of online advertising, Google.  Most small business owners think of AdWords as those simple text ads you see in your search results. But the giant has not been sleeping.  Google created a Display Ad Creator tool back in 2008, but it hasn’t really hit the mainstream (in my humble opinion).  If you use Google AdWords, you can find this tool in your dashboard.
I created the banner ad below and linked it to BizSugar.com, the social bookmarking site for small business owners and sister site to Small Business Trends. Again, I sized it down to fit here, but I could choose any or all of the eight sizes they offer, in a matter of minutes. Google gives you tons of choices, but they also wisely show you what ads have the highest click-through rates and what’s popular.  This is a template ad, but I added the copy.  If you’ve not tried Google’s Display Ad options, you might want to check it out.
BizSugar.com
If none of these banner ad sites strike your fancy, you can always create something in Paint, Microsoft Publisher, PowerPoint or any other tool that has drawing features.  It may not be the same in quality as a professionally designed ad, but it would be free.
Or you could go in the opposite direction and get banners professionally designed.  Your own Web designer or a graphics designer most likely can create display ads for you.  Or you could try an online design service.  One such service is PointBanner.com.   Last September, Anita Campbell wrote about a positive experience with PointBanner.com. You can read the review of PointBanner here.  PointBanner does not offer a free service, but the service is relatively fast and inexpensive.  You can get a banner ad professionally created for under $25 per ad, in roughly 2 days.  You don’t have to learn a tool or HTML color codes, and your email will be kept confidential with PointBanner.

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