Since their online infancy in the 1990s, display advertisements have grown up to become one of the most prevalent vehicles for digital and online marketing. While this best practices guide will focus on traditional “banner” ads, digital display advertising has evolved from simple static images to also include new forms like video, interactive, rich media ads and more.

There’s no sure-fire formula for guaranteed success with display advertising. And you certainly won’t see click-through rates (CTRs) of 44% like the very first banner ad achieved back in 1994 (a CTR of 0.1% is about average now), but if you follow the best practices laid out in this guide you should see an improvement in the performance of your developer marketing campaigns.


First off, assume that most developers would prefer to not see any ads. This means it’s crucial that your advertisements be interesting, relevant and efficient to get the attention of your target audience.

Also remember that developers will associate your ads with your brand and products even if they don’t click on them. This means…

  • Don’t annoy them
  • Don’t deceive them

Promote the benefits of your products. Be truthful. And avoid annoying your audience with interstitials, prestitials, pop-ups, pop-unders, slow loading ads, or anything else that might be irritating. The viewer will remember your company for the annoyance, not for the great products you have.

Lastly, make sure your ad looks professionally designed by someone who understands marketing to developers. An amateur looking design won’t compel developers to click and could be detrimental to your brand credibility.


Promote the key benefits of your product in your display ads, not features. You can’t rely on the reader of the ad to figure out how your product’s features will help them; you need to tell them how you will help solve a problem they have (especially if it’s a problem they don’t even realize they have yet).

You should also try not to overwhelm the reader with too much information at once. It’s best to keep your message short and focus each ad on one key point or benefit. A dev will not wait through several rotating ad panels to get your message.

Assume a short attention span (you have a second or two at best) and get to the point quickly! Use different creatives to promote different benefits or aspects of your product and run them in tandem with each other.

Just as important as telling your audience how your product will benefit them, is telling them exactly what kind of action to take next. Do you want them to download a free trial? Should they sign up for your newsletter? Is there more information on your website or blog you’d like them to read?

Whatever the next step, you need to specifically tell the reader what you want them to do. Include a compelling offer (like a free trial or download) and a strong call to action in your ad to maximize results.

Landing pages

Now that you’ve crafted great messaging for your banner ads, you’re ready to start driving traffic to your site. Let’s talk about the landing page.

The landing page is crucial to nurturing your developer through the sales funnel. This is only the start of a conversation with potential customers and it’s your chance to educate them about why they should invest in your product.

Do not expect a developer to go to your landing page and necessarily buy your product immediately. Developers typically buy products after researching and testing them, and then usually only when they are working on a project that requires that tool.

Make it simple to find all pertinent information. Developers will want to browse your site and documentation to find out how easy it will be to use and integrate your product with their platform, language, existing infrastructure or codebase. Show them the code. Impress them with how easy it is to use, and how well-thought-out the API is.

Remember that developers respond to facts and the ability to see the code or product in action much better than marketing buzzwords – especially when the ad is written by someone who doesn’t actually understand developers or what they are talking about.

Get straight to the value proposition and leave the fluffy, feel-good marketing at home.

If you use a call to action such as a “free trial or demo” your free trial or demo link MUST be the very first thing the developer sees on your landing page. Never use your home page as your landing or download page.

Make the download easy to find on the landing page. The download button should be the most prominent thing on the page and should mimic the style of download button on the ad they clicked and reinforce the same call to action.

If you offer a free trial and the first thing the viewer sees if pricing, you will lose them (possibly forever). You must give them what was promised in the ad. A “Free Download” should not require use of a credit card or other payment method. A “Buy” message should not appear when you offer a “Free Download.”

Wrap up

In our experience, some of the best performing ads have been the simplest. They might include screenshots of the product, a bit of code, key benefits, and a free trial offer or download.

Show value. Be truthful. Don’t be annoying. Stay on message. Look professional.

These are the basics of marketing to developers.

Here at Developer Media we can help you put together an effective display advertising campaign and get your message in front of the right audience.

We’d love to work with you, get in touch now: