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Creating a Banner Ad Worth Clicking on

This story appears in the November 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Marketers across the U.S. will spend $42.3 billion on digital this year, research firm eMarketer estimates, and digital display advertising will account for $17.6 billion of that. That's great news for , Yahoo and other digital ad giants, but for many marketers, it means throwing good money after bad: The national average for click-through rates remains a paltry 0.1 percent.

Appearance is everything when it comes to driving clicks, contends Ayal Ebert, CEO of New York City-based display advertising and retargeting platform Dispop. "Design is the most important factor," Ebert says. "You can have great targeting, optimization and tracking, but if your ad looks bad, you're not going to attract customers."

Every Dispop campaign sources more than a dozen banner-ad proposals from freelance designers across the globe, each based on the advertiser's initial creative brief. After the advertisers identify the three campaign approaches they like best, they initiate communication with the designers, suggesting revisions until the ads meet their requirements. Dispop then sends the completed banners directly to websites around the world (in-cluding Facebook), measuring impressions and clicks to determine which ad is most effective. As the results filter in, Dispop customers can shut down underperforming ads, paying only for the most successful campaign.

"There's not necessarily a correlation between what looks good and what works," Ebert says. "Testing is the only way to see what resonates."

Dispop pricing begins at $99 and includes a set of three banner ads as well as A/B testing tools. Advertisers submit a two- to three-line description of their , along with their logo and five to eight words of suggested ad copy--a process that takes just minutes. Dispop distributes each proposal to its network of roughly 5,000 designers, letting them decide which projects they wish to tackle; the firm awards $50 to $200 to each of the top three designers.

Dispop exited beta in June after raising $600,000 in seed funding from Israeli firm Inimiti Capital Partners. Small-business owners and boutique agencies mounted close to 300 campaigns in the first six weeks after the platform went live.

"Typically when you go to a company for web banners or logos, they assign you to a graphic designer who gives you his interpretation of what you're looking for. You just hope their guy gets it right within the first couple of tries. Dispop is a much better avenue," says Eric Thurman, principal of cloud-based marketing platform interCloud9, which rolled out its first Dispop campaign this summer.

"A lot of small businesses are having a really hard time managing their Facebook and Google campaigns, so we're building a one-stop shop where you can get everything you need," Ebert says. "Crowdsourcing is creative disruption. Now you don't need to have in-house designers--you can do it all on the web, but still work with human beings who know how to touch the heart of the consumer."

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