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Internet Ad Banner Stages of Creation
Words of wisdom by Paul M. Carhart

Stage 1: Research - Agency's Responsibility

Find out about the company if you need to. Find out what is being advertised. What is the company's take or slant? What are safe logo specifications and colors? What colors does the client like? What are the client's competitors doing? What has the client done and liked or disliked in the past? If the ad is for a specific product, find out about it. What is it that you like about the product or company? What sites will the ad be running on and what are the dimensions and size specifications (measured in k) of these ads.

Stage 2: Concept - Agency's Responsibility

Jot down ideas, clever plays on words and situations to put the product or company in. Bounce ideas off of others. Some outlandish ideas can actually evolve into a very clever conservative ad just as easily as they can evolve into more in your face ads. It is all in the presentation. You should already know the boundaries your client will go for from your research and talking to the client.

Stage 3: Script/Storyboard - Agency's Responsibility

Visually lay out the ad frame by frame so the client can tell by looking at the storyboard what action will take place. Write a first draft script to the best of your ability. Do not expect the draft to be changed because often the client will not be a writer. Use a spell checker and get your information correct from your research. Make sure both the storyboard and script are self-explanatory.

Stage 4: Sign Off Script and Storyboard - Agency & Client's Responsibility

This is the first look the client will get of your ad idea. Make sure you are available to answer questions such as colors you have in mind, whether the ad will be illustrative, photo-realistic, cartoony, etc. Often the storyboard can get across the concept of the ad without addressing the look and feel. Get the client's feedback on what they are looking for and offer suggestions on what you think will work well or even better than what the client suggests. This is the time to get it all on the table. Your first draft script may get edited here as well. Take changes with a grain of salt. Be there to explain the use of certain words if they affect the concept of the ad. In the end, the client will win out but if you can help give them what they want and remain true to the original concept, it's all to the better. Make sure the client shows the storyboards and scripts to anyone involved in the approval process (i.e. - their boss, the legal department, anyone who has a say in whether the ad gets final approval). Also, double check that you are using the company logo correctly and that there is not any missing information from the ad that the client wanted. Once the client and you agree on what this ad says and should look like, consider it set in stone.

Stage 5: Look And Feel Approval (optional) - Agency & Client's Responsibility

If you are dealing with a new client or the look and feel of the ad is still in question, create the first frame of the ad in Photoshop and allow the client to view it for color, style, etc. in conjunction with the storyboard. Take suggestions and alterations from the client at this stage to help solidify the storyboard and make sure the creator and the client are both on the same page.

Stage 6: Animation First Draft - Agency's Responsibility

Create the first draft of the ad and deliver it to your client for their viewing pleasure. Make sure your information is translated correctly from the storyboard and script to the computer. It is important to stay on concept. Follow the storyboard precisely because that is what the client expects. If for some reason you cannot reporoduce what was in the storyboard (i.e. - you cannot find or create the appropriate image that matches the storyboard, etc.) go back to those you originally concepted the idea with or whoever originally came up with it if it was not you and get input. Two heads are better than one, especially since it is common for the animator to get too close to the ad after working on it for hours at a time.

Stage 7: First Draft Revisions - Client's Responsibility

If you followed the previous stages fairly closely, there should be minimal changes after you deliver it to the client. It is fair, on both sides, to expect a few minor revisions. Typos happen just as clients change their minds. Now is the time for slight alterations. Once you and the client agree on these changes, there should not be any more.

Stage 8: Sign Off Final Revisions - Client's Responsibility

After the revisions are made to the first draft, the client needs to approve the final version and sign off on it.

Stage 9: File Size Reduction (measured in k) - Agency's Responsibility

There is no reason to optimize the ad down to the specified size until it has been approved for content, copy, timing, and look & feel. Otherwise, you would have to go through this step at each stage of draft and revision which would be a waste of time. Make sure the client knows not to send pervious versions of the ad to the sites they are advertising with as they would be too large.

Stage 10: Additional Versions - Agency & Client's Responsibility

Now is the time to spin this ad off into additional sizes required at additional sites. Approval of these ads by the client may be required but will probably be only a matter of going through the motions due to the fact that the original ad has already been approved for copy, timing and look & feel.

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Related Information

This article was originally used as guidelines for interaction between Internet Exchange (where I was employed), and Toshiba America for generating Internet ad banners and new media creative.

It has since had many other applications.


  © 1997 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.