Your designs might look great, but do they convert?

The brain and how it subconsciously responds to advertisements has been the name of the game this week.

Rocket Fuel, a programmatic ad firm, released new research that claims that certain ads average 31% higher conversion rates across all platforms.

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“The higher performance of ads using red as a background color can be attributed to physiology and behavior,” explained Robert Jones, Rocket Fuel’s research director. “As humans, we see red light more vividly because of the interplay between three types of cone cells in the retina. We are also inclined and trained to notice the color red first — it indicates danger and warnings and it’s used in traffic signals and stop signs.”

Other factors that improve conversion rates: males faces, animations and logo placement.

So there you have it. All of that big, fancy data is telling you to do something so simple it sounds ironic: have an ad with a red background, a man’s face, some animation (6-9 seconds is ideal, says Rocket Fuel) and a well-placed logo (lower-left corner).

Ads in which the logo was placed in the lower left corner saw conversion rates 81% higher than logos placed anywhere else in the ad. Animated creative averaged 7% higher conversion rates across “most verticals,” says Rocket Fuel, and among those animated ads, animations lasting 6-9 seconds led to 138% more conversions.

Oh, and avoid gray background. Those lead to 8% lower conversion rates, per Rocket Fuel. (I wonder how any 50 Shades of Grey-theme campaign’s conversion rates turned out.)

“Our internal research suggests that ads may perform better when their background color has a high contrast with the surrounding page,” added Jones. “If current Web design trends lead to fewer red backgrounds and more green, white, blue, or gray backgrounds, then ads with red backgrounds might perform better as a result of being more likely to stand out against the surrounding content.”

Rocket Fuel analyzed nearly 40,000 banner ads from 1,076 advertisers across 16 verticals, per a release. Over 23 billion impressions were studied.

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