PPC Has Gone Visual, Have You?


“An image is worth 1,000 clicks.”

Er, something like that. PPC is forever changing. And with that trend comes the shift away from text based ads to image based. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Bing Native Ads, or another, without exception, every new channel of advertising that’s come out recently has some form of a visual component. Sitting down and writing 95 killer characters is no longer enough to set yourself apart from your competitors. It’s time to step up your image game. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Represent Your Brand

In nearly all the new ad formats, there’s plenty of room for your logo. That’s the first and easiest step to branding in these image ads. But taking it a step further, be sure you’re sticking to your brand guidelines. Keep font, colors, and the feel of your imagery consistent. Outside of attempting to drive a click and an immediate sale, your image ads should be helping to spread your brand. Just because someone doesn’t click on your ad, doesn’t mean they didn’t see it. Think about your brand in these image ads in the same way you would experience a billboard driving down the highway. You might not pull over every time you see a McDonalds sign, but all of those signs keep them top of mind and continues to impress they’re branding on you.

Pony Up for Good Stock Images

Awful Clip ArtIn a world of Instagram and Pinterest, what we classically think of as stock images have become taboo. These channels are specifically designed for people to share photos that look professional even though they were taken from their phones. So why would you revert to using some crappy clip art looking images in your ads? (Ok, maybe yours aren’t that bad, but you get the point.) The same goes for all other channels with image ads. It’s OK to use images that aren’t original to you, but quit using the free images. Put your money where your mouth is and spend a little coin to get better images rolling in these channels. Good images are eye catching and much harder to spot as advertising than this guy.

Know What the End Product Looks Like

Just because you’re given a certain amount of pixels for an image, doesn’t mean that image is going to show at that size all the time. A prime example of this is LinkedIn Sponsored Content vs right column placements. Although both ads are created using the 1200 x 628 image ad size, here is what they look like to the end user (me).


Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 8.57.17 AM

Right Column:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 8.56.24 AM

That’s one sponsored update vs three right column ads. Just a bit of a difference in visual effect, yes? Keep these differences in mind when putting together your images. The second image in that deck of three is of a house. That you can barely see. That’s definitely not going to convince me to click.

Test Different Image Strategies

Most image ads I see come through are simply of smiling people being happy, supposedly, about the product they’re advertising. Not too dissimilar from the lady above. But using people in image ads is only one type of strategy you can employ. Set up some tests using imagery around the areas below to see which performs best for your company:

  • People: Like we just discussed, use images of actual people in your ads. If they’re using your product/service, bonus points.
  • Product: This is pretty obvious for ecom folks, but lead gen people should test this out too. Are you SaaS? Test out using some flattering images of your software in the ads.
  • Industry Indicators: Maybe you cater to a specific industry like HVAC. Rather than random smiling faces, put images of HVAC professionals doing their thing or something that speaks specifically to those folks.
  • Seasonal: It’s easy to think of the holidays with “seasonal”, but that’s just one season. If you’re selling pools, the holiday season isn’t your season. When the time comes, use imagery that calls out how hot it is or how refreshing it could be to hop into a pool.

Images are the new frontier in advertising. If your visual game isn’t up to snuff, you’ll have a hard time making an impact in these new, visual based channels.

What are your tips for improving your visual PPC game? Share with us in the comments!