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Dean Harland
Digital Developer



Should you choose static or dynamic banner ads?

To stand out in the digital world businesses must produce engaging, high quality, stop-the-scroll content. There’s no way around it - and nowhere is that maxim more true than in display ad campaigns.

Here at Waste, we pride ourselves on doing things differently and maxing out on innovative and creative approaches to content. Whether your campaign includes static or dynamic banner ads, we can make it engaging, fresh and a great fit to your product or message.

Deciding whether to go for static or dynamic ads, however, can have an impact on the build process and your budget. It’s important for businesses to consider the best options by discussing it with the media buyer and even with the creative agency (that’s us!).

To help with that decision, let’s break down the key differences between the two and have a closer look at the pros and cons.

Static Banner Ads

Static or standard banner ads are ads that do not change their content. This is not to say that they are a single static image or that they do not animate or even contain videos. It just means that once built, the design, text, media and animations cannot be updated or refreshed without replacing it completely with a new build.

To help speed this process up, at Waste we try to make static ads as creatively dynamic as possible. This can be sped up even further by using a build template with predefined settings similar to a dynamic banner ad. But unlike dynamic banner ads, these settings can be amended quickly due to it being a manual process. This allows us to do things like adding and removing copy frames or turning on and off promotional messages with just a few clicks.

Static banner ads are generally used to promote more generic messages for a wider audience.

It is still possible to use them for audience-specific targeting, A/B testing etc., but this has shifted more and more to dynamic banner ads as it allows for a more automated and accurate solution.

Static banner ads are relatively easier and cheaper to produce as they require less planning and setup. They can also be easily repurposed for all ad networks, with little to no additional work.

Dynamic Banner Ads

Dynamic banner ads are ads that display content based on available data. Data can be used to both target users and populate the ad content.

Dynamic ads are generally used for retargeting but a default generic message is also included to cover a wider audience if required.

Targeting data is mainly obtained through cookies to target users based on their interests. (It is worth noting that the current and upcoming privacy changes will have an effect on the data available. Check out this article if you want to learn more.)

Dynamic banner ads are a lot more complex to implement than static banner ads and require a lot more planning and setup from the business, media buyer and creative agency. This makes them a more expensive option but data shows that dynamic ads provide a higher engagement and conversion rates due to personalisation. However, they require regular market research, time and money to ensure the ads stay engaging and are targeting the most relevant audiences.

Data used to populate ad content is called a feed (basically a spreadsheet) which is populated with all versions of the ad.

Variables (columns) are specified within the feed which will be used by the ad. These variables will be things like copy, images, colours, promotional messages, start and end dates etc. Once set these variables are fixed so it is important to include everything that may need changing in the future.

Although the variables for the feed are fixed, versions (rows) can be added and removed at any time. A specific version is selected based on targeting and deployed to the user. This data is imputed into the feed manually, but depending on the ad network can also be populated by first and third party API’s. 

Once the variables have been decided the ad needs to know how to deal with them. This means setting up conditions and rules within the build and feed to ensure that the ad looks great no matter the data. For example, shrink the copy font size or limit the number of characters to ensure that text doesn’t overrun the edge of the ad or hide and show a promotional ribbon depending on whether the message variable is empty or not. This is the reason why variables are fixed. If new variables are required then a new feed and build will need to be created. Targeting will also need to be redirected.

Because of the complexity, designs and animations for dynamic banner ads are generally more simplistic. At Waste we try to get a good balance between design and the dynamic content to ensure it is as engaging as possible, no matter the variation.

Ad networks use their own methods and tools to implement dynamic banner ads. This means that ad builds and feeds need to be created specifically for each individual ad network being used and cannot be transferred from one to the other.

To sum up...

Simple enough, right? At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to ad type. The message you want to convey, the audience you want to target, your budget and frequency of change will all affect your decision. It is more than likely that a combination of both types would be beneficial.

I also feel that I should highlight that in the past we have found a misconception that dynamic banner ads can save time and money as they are essentially templates that can be changed without having to go through additional QA checks. However, as stated, these templates are complex and can only make small predefined changes.

Any significant changes to the design or content would result in creating a brand new campaign with all the relevant setup (meaning more time and cost!). Templates can still be created for static banner ads and are far more flexible when making significant changes as they have no conditions binding them. Dynamic banner ads are a powerful tool when used in the right circumstances. It is important that they are utilised correctly for them to have a worthwhile payoff.

And of course, we are always on the other end of the phone or email if you have any questions or need advice on what might work best for you. Feel free to drop us a line here.

So, in summary (and for those of you who love a good old fashioned pros and cons lists):

Static Banner Ads:


  • Cheaper and less time-consuming to implement

  • Great for widespread, generic messaging

  • Easily repurposed for different ad networks


  • One-way communication

  • Lacks personalisation for specific audiences

Dynamic Banner Ads:


  • Personalisation for specific audiences

  • Perfect for retargeting

  • Drive up engagement


  • More expensive to implement

  • More complex setup

  • Requires monitoring and changing depending on current trends

  • Requires individual builds for each ad network used