What Colour to choose for your PPC Display Ad

There are a lot of things to consider when constructing PPC display ads for your marketing campaign. Often overlooked, though, is the ppc display ad colours. Choosing the right colours for your PPC display ads can have an immense effect on the campaigns performance.

How to choose PPC display ad colours

When approaching what colours to use in your PPC image ads, there are two dimensions to think about. The first is the artistic composition of the ad (which colours go well together) and the second is the emotion the colour instills within the viewer. .

Let’s take a look at a colour wheel.

The colour wheel displays the known colours and how they relate to each other. The first part of the colour wheel are the primary colours – red, blue, and yellow. These colours can’t be created by mixing other colours together. However, all other colours can be made by mixing these three, if you are using paint.


The colour wheel is used to find complementary colours. These are colours which go together well while also creating a contrast and are found opposite each other on the wheel. A particularly famous combination on movie posters are the colours blue and orange. Using these complementary colours make things stand out, as the blue and orange make each other pop.

Be careful though, in art theory complementary colours contrast, while in everyday English complementary colours go well together.

While colors that sit near each other on the color wheel fit well, they don’t create a contrast. 

When creating PPC ads, using complementary colours can make something really stand out, while using the analogous colours will create a softer, more pleasant effect. We can use the colour calculator at https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator/ to guide us.

Below, you can see how we used colours to make CTAs stand out.

We used a green and a blue(two analogous colours) as the main elements of our design,and used a slightly grey toned background instead of the standard white. .) When we want to highlight something, such as a button, we use a complimentary colour, in this case we went with a shade of orange.

The Psychology behind PPC Display Ad Colors

In the gusts of written content, pages with stories of police stations painting their prison walls blue to calm inmates, or of marketers changing the colour of their CTA button to increase conversions by 150%, are common. Specific colours are supposed to create particular emotions within us.

The evidence for this is not so clear cut, but is based a lot on culture, upbringing, experience, associations, and other personal qualities. Mapping these colours to specific emotions is taking a chance and hoping it works out.

However, this does not mean that you should not be thinking about colours when designing your ads and branding. While specific colours may not consistently translate to all people, customers do respond to colours that fit with the image of the brand.

Let’s take a look at the colour Green.

Green is often associated with environmental causes, growth (plants), nature, and forward movement (green is go on stop lights for example.) Green is also the colour of acceptance and confirmation — think about buttons on ATMs.

A lot of companies which want to promote themselves as environmentally friendly use green, as do industries that deal with nature and plants, such as farming. Choosing the correct colour for your ads should follow the same premise. While the actual colour may not influence mood, association is more consistent across people from different backgrounds. If the main colours of your ads doesn’tfit your brand’s image or the content of the advertisement, it may deter potential leads.

It is important to remember that different colours have different associations across cultures. In European and North American cultures, white is often the colour of purity and cleanliness while in some Asian cultures, white symbolizes death. When deciding on the colours to use in your ads, do some research on your target audience and find out if there are any colour associations that may be interpreted differently outside the confines of your own particular culture.

Use of Contrast in your PPC Display Ads

For best results, use contrasting colours in your ads to highlight the most important offer. Paras Chopra, founder of Visual Website Optimizer, ran a number of tests on CTAs and came to the conclusion that:

“The color red, matters, but only if it is combined with other elements such as “Free” (or another effective Call to Action). Red may bring attention to your call to action, but if the text is not persuasive, the visitor will probably not take any action.”

Here are the variable ads that were used to test this theory. The colour red provides a much stronger contrast to the background than the colour blue. The blue bleeds a little into the background and while perfectly legible, does not stand out.

(taken from Smashing Magazine)

There are generally 2 types of text on visual ads, descriptive text and actionable text. Descriptive text is used when what is advertised may need some explaining and actionable text is used to encourage an action from the viewer, such as “Download”, “Register”, or “Learn More”.

Choosing an Image with colour in mind

If you are a service-based small business, you may lack the designer resources to create custom images or photos for your ads and instead may need to rely on stock photos. For more abstract services that do not translate well to stock photographs, you want to choose photos that communicate the feeling associated with your service.

It is important to not just consider the subject matter of photos, but also the colour composition. What association does the primary colour of the image create? How well does it fit into the brand image? What colour should the text overlay be to look uniform, and what colour do we use for the text or call to action that we want to stand out?

If you are a product retailer, you definitely should showcase the product(s) that the ad is trying to sell. Get a picture of your product with light, pastel colours or white. Keeping the image clean will showcase the product better and make it easier to fit high contrast copy on top of it. Subtler colours will also highlight your product, while strong colours may take attention away.

There are a lot of myths around the use of colour in advertising, but there are certified truths as well. Knowing how to use colour effectively can make all the difference between a successful campaign and a lukewarm one. Your PPC display ad colour matters.