The “Ugly Truth” About Why Ugly Banners and Sites Work So Well!

As online marketers and maybe even designers, it’s in our nature to want to pay top dollar for the best looking web sites, blog themes and ad copy around. The same holds true for when we are creating banner ads and landing pages for our ad campaigns.

Unfortunately all of these big budgets spent on high end designers might be going to waste. Time after time, affiliate marketers are finding that UGLY works better than amazing and professional designers.

First… let’s just mention some of the ugly and basic sites in the world that are just killing it… but have a basic as can be looking web site.

  • Craigslist – So horribly simple and basic that it’s boring, yet one of the most popular sites on the internet.
  • DrudgeReport – If this was any more simple, it could be a txt file. 15 million visitors per month.
  • Google – Dead simple home page… never monetized, always used!

Now let’s focus on banner ads and why people just love to click on those horrible banner ads that you can easily get created for $5 each through Fiverr. No one wants to be sold with classic banner ads and promotions. Make your ads stand out by grabbing attention, being flashy or just getting straight up awkward looking!

A while back Mr.Green wrote a post all about ugly web sites and banners, which was excellent. You can see one of his examples below and how a simple test between two banner ads (one professional/one sloppy) yielded in better click through results.

Banner 1: 11,388 impressions, 79 clicks, 0.07% CTR
Banner 2:
13,437 impressions, 147 clicks, 0.11% CTR

If nothing else, this tells you that you can open up the in-browser image editing software at and create ugly and simple banners of your own without having to worry about hiring a top notch designer that eats into your profits right away.

Putting Effective Ad Copy and Ugliness to Work for You

Sometimes you can create the perfect combination of ugly and talented design while also portraying your message within an ad. This is something that we have been seeing a lot more of lately. One of the first companies to create these information packed and text looking ads was Plenty of Fish. We are now seeing lots of people play around with these types of ads, such as EWA and Motley Fool. Be sure to check out the article from Rich Media which talks about why ads like the one to the right are actually skillfully created and have a lot more than to offer than just a basic and boring detail. These ads aren’t going for the average drive by click, people who read and click on these ads are actually interested and more likely to convert!

Ugly, Annoying and Creative Banner Ads Work

Depending on who you are advertising to and where, you are likely to get different results on your campaign click through rates and quality of leads. If you are going to the click through volume, ugly and annoying ads are definitely the way to go. Remember all of those “Punch the Monkey” and game related animated banners we used to see back in the day that would send you to a free email/zip submit offer? It didn’t matter what you were promoting, these banners were created simply for enticing the click. All of those were targeted towards general audience and were busy crazy cheap and heavy volume traffic. They knew the banners would get the clicks, so they could buy traffic nearly anywhere and have them convert into profit at the end.

And of course we can’t forget those horrible seizure flashing banners that always work extremely well! We all hate them… yet we ran them! Why, because they work!

So what is the take away here? At the end of the day you don’t need to have a flashy designer, a huge budget for your landing pages and promotions… but instead the drive to continually test your ad copy, put new and creative ideas to work and continue to split test them again!

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  1. Great share Zac! I ended up handing this over to my pal Seb since he's into creating banners and graphics. Really nice case study.
    My recent post When Simplicity Goes Wrong, a YouTube Story

  2. You bring up a good point here Zac. This is a page right out of offline direct response advertising. I’ve been using this in my business for years. The “ugly” ads I run always outperform the slick “nice” ones. For some reason, people have a misconception that pictures sell. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. WORDS sell, not fancy pictures. That’s a clue as to why ugly long copy advertisements work better than short copy ads with cool pics. Thanks for shedding some light on the situation for us here in the blogger world man.


    My recent post Being About Something More Than Chicken

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