Eight tips to make your adverts more effective.
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 1st Aug 2018
  • |
  • Edinburgh Fringe

We’re incredibly grateful to the theatre companies that support Broadway Baby with their advertising. Without them we wouldn’t be able to continue our arts coverage. But sometimes we see ads being placed that have a few classic mistakes and we know its effectiveness will be less than it could be. So here are our top tips for making your adverts (wherever you place them) get you more bums on seats.


Your brand – and in most cases that’s the image on your poster – should be clear and recognisable. The analysts who study this stuff suggest someone needs to see an image seven times before they’ll take action. So you want make sure that postage-stamp size image in the programme looks the same as your flyers, posters and your advertising. The more consistent it is, the better your marketing is working as a whole.

The Value Proposition

The value proposition as the industry bigwigs like to point out, is the reason someone would want to buy your product. In the case of theatre, that may not necessarily be the title of the show unless it’s a well known piece. If you’re dealing with new writing, perhaps a pull quote from a review or a headlining bit of casting is a better selling point? Remember, although you may have been living with your show for the last few months, this will be the first time a potential punter will have seen the title. Unless the title is selling it, you’ll probably be better off making your value proposition the most prominent part of your ad.

The Call To Action

A call to action is the text or button that asks the viewer to click. Phrases like ‘Book Now’ or ‘Watch A Trailer’ are great examples of a call to action, and give the viewer an idea of what they’re going to find after clicking your advert.

Keep It Simple

Don’t overcrowd your ad. Typically you’ve only got limited space and text that has to be squinted at to read isn’t working for you. Viewers typically only glance at an ad for a second, so it has to be very clear. Don’t use cursive/script fonts, all upper case or fonts smaller than 10pt. Brand image, value proposition, title and a call to action is all you need.

Frame It

People’s eyes are naturally drawn to a subject inside a box. Effective banner ads have a clearly defined frame with graphics extended to the edge of the box (and actually, cheating your frame in slightly and making your graphics looking like they’re busting out of the frame can actually be an eye catching trick). If your ad is white, it’s common practice to put a 1-pixel grey border around the ad.

Use Animation

Animated banner ads tend to outperform static banners and can be incredibly effective if done right. Don’t just use animation to add more text on additional frames – that’s just breaking the rule above; rather think about if your banner lends itself to some eye-catching movement. One advertiser on Broadway Baby once used an ad with an actor smoking and animated the smoke. It was difficult not to look at it.

Keep Your File Sizes Small

Bear in mind that a lot of your potential viewers may be on a mobile phone with a slow-connection. If your file size is too big it won’t load quickly and they may have scrolled past your ad before it’s had time to display. The smaller you can get your files the better, but the absolute maximum file size is 150K.

Don’t Abandon Your Clicks

Where you send visitors when they click on your banner is just as important as building a banner they want to click. Far to often we see companies sending potential audience members to their listing on EdFringe.com. Not the worst offence, since that page will include clips and your Twitter feed, but it’s not optimised to sell your value proposition (remember that?). You should create a page that takes over from the promises delivered on the banner and convinces them they need to add this show to their list. When you think they’re at a position to book a ticket, send them to the deep link on EdFringe.com where they can pick a date to reduce further clicks required to seal the deal.

Advertising on Broadway Baby cost just £12 per day and you can upload your ads and get your message in front of customers in minutes. Take a look at our advertising page.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this article has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now