In a world where hundreds of pictures bombard us daily, your customers will quickly dismiss your online image ads if they do not resonate. To make your image ads stand out takes more than just time, money and creative images; you also need to understand your audience and create strong ads to serve them.

Tailoring your ad not only to your audience but their place in your funnel will help you stand out in the crowd. Image via Pexels.

There are two campaign types that utilize image ads — display campaigns, which target new customers for brand awareness, and remarketing campaigns, which show ads to users who have already been to your site to convince them to purchase or take another action. Both of these campaign types can be effective at acquiring or maintaining customers, but a successful display campaign requires compelling ads to encourage customers to visit your site. Here are a few tips to help you make quality image ads for your digital advertising campaigns.

Know Your Audience

Before you begin, it is important to know who you are targeting and how best to represent your company or product. For example, if you are using a display campaign to acquire new customers, you should often use different ads than you would if you are remarketing to customers who are already familiar with your brand.

For display campaigns, viewers likely have no idea what your business is, what you are selling, or why they should even buy from you. Your ad must answer all of these questions to be effective. For remarketing campaigns, viewers already have a good sense of what you offer. Your image ads must entice them to come back and purchase, which you can do by displaying new products or sales.

You might be tempted to use the same images for both display and remarketing campaigns. This is not an ideal strategy, as you can see in the following data, where the same images were served in the display and remarketing campaigns. The goal of the display campaign is to convince new customers to create accounts, while the remarketing campaign’s goal is to entice users to purchase, and your image ads should match these goals.

Display vs. Remarketing

The example ads below show the difference between image ads targeted to display vs. remarketing. Image 1 contains text explaining the product offering and its benefits, and it had the highest account activation rate of the two images in the display campaign targeted to users who have never visited the site. Image 2 displays a new product and does not have much information other than the brand name and a “shop now” call to action.

Image 1

Image 2

As you can see in the data below, Image 1 showed much stronger performance in the customer prospecting campaign, while image 2 performed better among previous website visitors. Because the intent of the remarketing campaign is different from that of the display campaign, it is important to have images that match to the desired outcomes.

Image 1 performs well for a display campaign, because it provides context around the product and its use. After seeing this ad, you can quickly understand what the advertiser offers. Image 2 performs well for remarketing because it displays an exciting new product release. In this case, this ad’s target audience is already familiar with the brand, but may be tempted to revisit the site to learn more about the new product. By tailoring your images to the audiences that will see the ads, you can drive much stronger CTRs and conversion rates.

It’s also worth noting that we match the landing page conversion action to each campaign type. For the top-of-funnel display campaign, we encourage new visitors to activate an account and begin experimenting with our product. For the lower-funnel remarketing campaign, we attempt to close the sale by encouraging a final purchase.

Simple is better

It is always best to have images that stand out online, but it is also important that your images be clear and to the point. If you are selling shoes, you should show a clear image of your shoes with a “shop” call to action button, rather than an ambiguous image. Otherwise, you risk users misunderstanding what you sell and clicking on an ad with no intent to purchase. By making your ads clear to consumers, you are prequalifying your audience before you pay for them to come to your site. This lowers your cost and bounce rate and increases your conversion rate, all of which help improve your campaign’s success.

Keep testing, testing, testing

No matter what campaign type you are using, it is important to continue testing different ads. It’s easy to become discouraged when you don’t see results immediately. Spend some time testing different product offerings and calls to action until you understand what resonates with your audience.

Once you do find a strong performing ad, don’t assume that you can run the same one ad forever. Doing so can create ad fatigue, causing strong performing image ad campaigns to experience performance declines. Refreshing and testing your image ads depends on the impression and click traffic to your campaigns. The larger the audience seeing your ads, the more often you should create new images.

Image ads are often a second thought when you are just beginning to test them, but with some time and investment, using image ads to gain and retain customers will go a long way for the health and growth of your business.