Banner generator tools are a great alternative to working with creative or design agencies or freelance designers. There are lots of tools that will help you create your own banners with specialized (desktop) software or with online apps.
Desktop banner design software include tools like Banner Designer Pro or Banner Design Studio. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, these tools don’t require high design skills but you still need to be proficient enough to understand their different settings and features.
For a small or medium business that needs to quickly start a display advertising campaign, the requirement of testing and iterating might serve as complications to creating banners using these software. Fortunately, there are some online apps that help you do the same thing in the browser, using a few mouse clicks.
This is the simplest solution for those looking for efficiency. The app provides nine banner templates and an input form. You should input your logo, text message and call-to-action button. In each step all the different banners change instantly to adapt to your settings so it works on the what-you-see-is-what-you-get principles. You only have to do the work once and get all the nine different banners. It’s the only app that can generate more than one banner at a time so it’s a huge time-saver.
There are a couple of downsides to this: it creates only static banners – so, no Flash, GIF, or HTML5; if you need JPEG images for your campaign, then it’s okay. Also, you can’t customize each of the banners. Say for example you want to position your logo at the bottom of a banner or adjust/drag the background. You can’t do this with AvocadoBanners because their templates are fixed.
Still you get a very good price/quality ratio; downloading all the nine banners is $9.99 and the results are pretty slick, especially if you use their pre-defined backgrounds that provide a clean, minimalist feeling.
AvocadoBanners claims you can create a banner ad set in 30 seconds, but for this you need to have all the inputs at hand and know how the end-result should look like in order to actually create those ads within that time-frame.
PROS: very affordable compared to freelance designers; quick; easy; 9 different banner sizes; looks cool
CONS: only JPEG format; not enough customization
This is the Mercedes of the banner application tools: a highly customizable and integrated app that will give you any option you want (if you have the time to go through it’s heavily packed features).
The banner creation tool has lots of elements to help you customize each banner exactly as you want. Each banner has to be designed individually and you can save them as a GIF, Flash, or HTML5 and then integrate it (via API) in your display advertising campaign.
It’s the perfect solution for serious advertisers. They will also host your banners in their cloud and depending on the monthly subscription you choose you get a number of served ads daily. Moreover, if you don’t want to create the banners yourself they’ll even do it for you with prices starting at $29 / banner.
PROS: professional; highly customizable (any element); ad-server integration; robust solution; support
CONS: time consuming; expensive compared to freelance designers
CannedBanners is a sophisticated solution for serving dynamic ads but it also has a cool tool that can be nice to use for designing banners online. You start by selecting a template and size, then you customize each of the template elements, like color, font, background, logo, text and images. It’s much simpler than using dedicated software and the results are pretty good.
Each banner you create with this app will set you back $25.
The CannedBanners solution is great for e-commerce and other medium- and big-sized clients looking to display dynamic ads. They employ templates that can dynamically change their elements and every ad is personalized in real-time with your product, offer, or message. This is done via APIs and cookie integration. Say you’ve browsed the Amazon store for some products. CannedBanners can display Amazon ads with those exact products on other sites you are visiting. It’s a smart tool for re-targeting or re-marketing.
PROS: customizable templates, dynamic ads integration, adserving
CONS: expensive compared to freelance designers
A quick “Banner Maker” search on Google reveals other tools that I tried and decided not to include in this list (like Fotor or Canva). The reason is that they don’t really focus on the specific banner format and features needed in banner advertising. They are mostly general design tools made for the web. Yes, you can select a banner size and start designing, and they even have some templates to ease your work, but that’s the most they will help you with. Other than that, you’re left with your design skills and imagination. So, I think they’re not for the end-users but more for the intermediate freelancer or creative agency designer.
Tiara Amier is a digital nomad freelancer passionate about advertising, gadgets, startups, social media and crowdfunding. In the past year she's been helping small businesses (scuba-diving shops, hotels, car rentals) with online marketing and advertising.