In art, a picture is worth a thousand words. In native advertising, a picture is worth a thousand clicks. Imagery in advertising does the heavy lifting when it comes to capturing reader attention but oftentimes marketers get it wrong.
Here are 5 reasons your images may be getting lost in the shuffle and costing you clicks:
1. You’re lacking a clear subject
One of the main differences between professional and amateur photography is a clear focus on a specific subject. Photos tend to lack a clear subject when they are taken from too far a distance, cluttering the frame with surrounding elements and splitting the attention of the viewer.
In an article for PetaPixel, Lisa Clarke writes, “Fill the frame with your subject and see how much better your photo will look without so much wasted space.” When it comes to advertising, an image without a subject is as bad as a piece of content without a headline. You want to draw a user’s attention, not add to the noise of the already saturated digital space.
2. You’re not accurately representing your target audience
The art of photography is all about representation; capturing the essence of a landscape, an object, or a human. The art of photography in advertising lays in accurately capturing your target audience.
If you look at most industries today, marketing imagery focuses on the human element: travel marketing depicts travelers; makeup is marketed through the women who wear it. When you think of Dos Equis beer, you're reminded of “the most interesting man in the world.” When you think of Old Spice, you imagine that sexy man with his shirt off. When you think of Philidelphia cream cheese, you're reminded of a middle aged angel enjoying her morning bagel. All of these campaigns focus on the qualities of the buyer rather than the qualities of the product. And they work. Dos Equis, a basic lager in a world of craft beer, has grown 34.8% since 2007. Why? Because they chose to represent the qualities (or aspirational qualities) of their target demographic.
This type of success can be duplicated through thoughtful curation of your advertising imagery. Who is your ideal customer and how can you mirror them back to themselves, but happier, through your advertising?
3. Your image fails to tell a story
Part of representing your target demographic is telling a story. As a marketer or advertiser, you already know this. But for some reason, story seems to be relegated to traditional channels. This is a frustrating trend considering one of native advertising’s key strengths is its unique combination of headline, image, and description (not to mention underlying content) allowing for brand storytelling that can most definitely drive indirect and even direct sales.
While the headline and description give incrementally more and more information to the reader, your image is the scroll stopper. There are any number of ways to tell a story through a single photo or graphic:
- Emotion: What emotion is your subject portraying? A bonus of native advertising is that you can explain this emotion through your headline and description
- Color: If you haven’t read up on color theory, go and do so immediately. The colors embedded in your image tell a story in themselves… Are you sending the message you intended?
- Composition: How is your subject interacting with the camera? Staring intensely? Walking away? The subject’s relation to the camera is also how they are relating to the consumer. Psychologically, this is all a part of representing a story in a single frame
4. You’re using poor quality images
Maybe your images weren’t poor quality to start with, maybe they’ve been compressed or cropped, it happens more often than you might think. That's why it's important to double and triple check how your image will look out in the wild, or choose a programmatic partner who does so for you.
For StackAdapt, the optimal specs are 1200x628 and 600x600 pixel images in the following formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, and Optimal file size is 750kb.
5. Your image does not align with your brand
As a marketer, you know how important it is to “be on brand” but let’s be honest, the waters can be murky… especially when it comes to imagery. If your brand guidelines are not clearly laid out in black and white, including the types of imagery you do and do not use: the emotions, colors, filters, and type of people you represent, it’s easy to poorly curate your advertising imagery. The result?
Imagine you’re retargeting a user who has previously visited your site, or you have intent-based data proving they are in the market for your product or service, but the image you’ve chosen doesn’t align with what they might expect from you or a company in your industry… At best, the ad won’t speak to them and at worst, they’ll scroll past without a second thought.
We’re helping our clients curate better imagery through our SmartAds initiative: Soon you’ll have the entire Shutterstock gallery available at your fingertips for free!