flash animators share ideas on good flash banner ads

Good Flash Banner Animation & Design

Flash banner design and animation can be a very effective and engaging way to get your message across, but how can you stand out and not get lost in the crowd? ICU2 shares some tips learned from some of our more recent Flash banner campaigns for the financial services market.

While in recent years, click-through rates on Flash banner ads may have declined, well targeted and well designed ads can still be very effective.

Common mistakes with Flash Banner Ads

Too much information.

Often, companies will try to cram every selling point they can think of into one banner ad. Simplify. People don’t want to spend a lot of time reading text online, especially when it’s ad that they’re actively trying to ignore.

Keep your message simple, cut down on text and get to the point fast. People will not wait for your ad to play all the way through to see what it’s about.

The more text you put in, the faster it has to move, the less people are likely to have a chance to understand it.



Some ads are simply too repetitive, whether it be in message or in presentation. Try to make your animations and transitions dynamic. Remember, this is moving image, not a Powerpoint Presentation.


Cluttered design.

This often goes hand in hand with the too much information problem. Having too many elements on screen at one time will be cluttered, confusing and off-putting, especially if they’re moving at the same time. Let viewers focus on one thing at a time, so if anything catches their eye, they’ll get your message instantly.

Having too many elements on screen also causes problems when creating ads for different sizes/dimensions. What may fit well into 300 x 250px, might not work so well at 728 x 90px.



Research your competition. See what other ads are on the sites you plan to advertise on, identify their strengths and weaknesses and think about ways to improve on what’s already there to make your ads stand out.


Seek out inspiration.

Most Flash banner ads are essentially motion graphics, so find the best examples of motion graphics and draw what you can from their influence. Look at other kinds of advertising, concepts, designs or videos. You may find a key idea for your ad in the most unlikely places.


Distill your idea down to one clear concept.

Find the one main message you’re trying to sell in the ad and make sure everything in the ad serves that message. If it’s not relevant, lose it. Whether it’s fun and cheeky or bold & dynamic, it must be clear and coherent.

Make you designs clear and impactful. If the design is well thought out, the animation becomes easier.


Restrictions and things to keep in mind

Whatever network you are advertising through will have it’s own restrictions and complying with these restrictions can be a large part of the job. Knowing what you can and can’t do early on in the process will save you a lot of time down the track. Attempting to retrofit your ads to the requirements of different ad networks could be incredibly time consuming.

The Google ad network is probably the main aim for most banner ads, so they are a good benchmark to start with.

File sizes for .swf files must be below 50kb, support the clickTAG variable, and cannot loop. It’s worth reading up on the full list of requirements here:


Bitmap images (jpg, png, gif), gradients, blurs and embedded fonts can all bump up your file size very quickly, so use them sparingly. If in doubt, go to Publish Settings> Flash, and tick Generate Size Report. You’ll be able to find your main culprits and come up with solutions.

Often, you will be creating a banner ad that will be used across various sites and at various sizes and dimensions. This means your concept must be able to translate across landscape & portrait formats, from very small to reasonably large.

Planning how your animation will work for each size/shape of banner will make your life easier and save time down the track.

The standard web banner ad sizes are:

  • Banner: 468 x 60
  • Leaderboard: 728 x 90
  • Square: 250 x 250
  • Small square: 200 x 200
  • Large rectangle: 336 x 280
  • Inline rectangle: 300 x 250
  • Skyscraper: 120 x 600
  • Wide skyscraper: 160 x 600


To wrap up

Be clear and simple. Don’t clutter with too much information or imagery.

Know where you’re putting the ads and what the restrictions are.

See what else is out there, what works and what doesn’t.

Have a strong concept and have fun with it.


Creating a great looking and well animated ad will not only get you your next job, but will make a great portfolio piece to show off. If you invest the time and energy into making something you’ll be proud of, you will also have tricks up your sleeve for the next time around.