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Pat Dryburgh

In July of 2009 I designed my first Fusion ad. I had 13,000 pixels to catch the attention of hundreds of thousands of tech and design geeks across the world. It was a real challenge. That first ad (which turned into 3 variations for testing purposes) was the beginning of my nearly-two year run as a designer for Fusion. In that time I’ve designed nearly 80 ads for Fusion and I have to say, I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Fusion Ads


The biggest lesson I’ve learned designing these ads is that constraint is your friend. There is absolutely no extra room in 13,000 pixels for unnecessary copy or graphics, so you are forced to pair down your message to the essentials.

The saying “Keep it simple, stupid” comes to mind, but the balance you have to strike is between keeping it simple while still being eye-catching for readers. Usually this means placing heavy emphasis on communicating the brand you are advertising.

For instance, a lot of the designs I have created are for iPhone apps which already have an icon designed for them. I will often base the design of the ad on the icon, creating a graphic that introduces the brand to the audience without over-communicating and causing confusion.

With the constraints imposed with a Fusion ad it is simply impossible to communicate everything about a product or service in one graphic. This isn’t an elevator pitch, it’s the initial handshake. Because an ad can’t delve into the features or selling points in an in-depth manner, I often try to create intrigue or mystery so the audience becomes curious about what the ad is selling.

Humour is another great way to introduce some brands. With the target market Fusion is aimed at, an inside joke is often appropriate; poking fun at a frustration many in the creative industry face creates a camaraderie between advertiser and audience.


Occasionally, advertisers introduce their product or service to me so I can design an ad for them, but rarely mention their strategy for converting the resulting ad clicks into sales. I believe Fusion is an incredible way of getting your product’s name in front of a very targeted audience, but if you are depending solely on the strength of a single ad to sell your product, you will be disappointed.

Though I was not involved with the campaign, I was thoroughly impressed with Campaign Monitor’s ad campaign that they ran back in 2009. Not only did they design beautiful, targeted ads, they also designed campaign-specific landing pages which allowed them to carry on the conversation started by the ad impression.

Not every campaign requires this exact strategy, but thought must be given to where that ad impression is going to lead your target audience. If the conversation you start with your ad impression suddenly drops off by taking the user to a completely foreign-looking homepage, you risk confusing or frustrating the people you are hoping to sell to. Respecting people’s time and attention is of utmost importance for Fusion, as it should be for anyone hoping to advertise on the web.


I’ve produced over a million pixels for Fusion and I am excited to produce a million more. If you have a product or service that someone in design, software development, or another creative industry might find interesting, get in touch with Chris at Fusion.

I think you’ll be surprised with what you can do with 13,000 pixels.

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