fbpx How to Effectively Use Stock Images in Your Ads


How to Effectively Use Stock Images in Your Ads

Images are great audience pullers! People today don't have the will or time to read large blocks of text in an ad. If it fails to steal their attention, they will just ignore the post. A survey by Social Media Examiner reports that 32% of marketers find visuals as the most integral part of their business page.  You can invest plenty of budget on different formats of PPC, but if your ad doesn’t have the right images, it all goes down the drain! However, hiring a professional photographer is not feasible for many people. If you are also someone with a lot on your plate and don't have the resources to deal with extra personnel on board, stock images can be your best option.

Ivy Attie

Guest writer

Stock images refer to the licensed photo libraries where you can find images in various categories. They are readily available and cost-effective. These image pools have become a lifesaver for many budget and time-conscious marketers.


However, there are some proven tricks to using stock images in ads. Let us walk you through the best ones:

1. Avoid Cliché Stock Photos

Your chosen image must align itself with the buyer’s thought process. An image that is too cheesy or generic doesn’t make the cut when it comes to convincing today’s savvy audience. 

Source: Pixabay

Take, for example, the above image. You can see that the models are displaying exaggerated expressions. Seeing unrelated photos doesn’t motivate a prospect to click on your ad. Instead, it reduces your credibility.

Set a criterion when it comes to choosing stock photos. Some questions to ask in this regard are:

  • Does the image compel users to click and crawl into your marketing funnel?
  • Does it convey the tone and message of your campaign?

Knowing these answers will enable you to pick photos that fit the bill accurately!

2. Avoid Overused Photos

Recognizable images are an immediate turn-off for viewers. 

Given that stock photos are instantly available to a worldwide audience, the chances of their overuse are pretty high. So, go the extra mile to find a unique stock photo for your ad.

One way to ensure your chosen image isn’t overused is by searching on Google.

  1. Click on the camera icon next to the Google search bar.
  2. Drag your chosen image into this bar and press “Enter.”

All websites using your selected photo will pop on the results page. You can then decide to use another image if this one seems to be overused.

3. Ensure Relevancy

We have all come across ads that do not make sense.

Let’s say you are scrolling on Facebook, and you see a photo of an adorable kitten sitting on a bike. At first, you might think it is an ad about motorbikes or an animal shelter. But, when you look at the caption, it says they are working as business software developers.

Sounds absurd, right? Well, it’s not unheard of!

Bear in mind – your ad should convey your message loud and clear. Even minor confusions or misalignments will increase the chances of the audience losing their trust in your brand.

Source: Facebook Ads Library

Food Revolution Network sets a stellar example when it comes to relevance. They have used a stock image showing vegetables, making it directly relevant to their aim of promoting a plant-based diet.

Although you aren’t able to add your product or service to a stock photo, you have to select images that match your campaign goals. Some questions to answer when choosing a stock photo are:

  • What is the campaign motto?
  • Can you convey your message with this photo and a few lines of text?

If the image satisfies these concerns, go for it.

4. Modify The Photos

The best part about using stock photos is that they allow a margin for editing. You can modify the photos to make them consistent with your brand and campaign.

Of course, you should first read the license clauses to check if you can do so. Generally, most stock photo websites permit edits like:

  • Add text
  • Add a logo or call-to-action (CTA)
  • Add overlays
  • Change the background
  • Crop some parts of the image

Some image editing tools you can use to assist in editing include GIMP, PicMonkey, Photoshop, and PIxlr. These editors will help you adjust a stock photo to deliver your desired message.

Source: Facebook Ads Library

Parallel Employment Group has modified this stock image and written text over it. This is a vivid example of editing a stock image to make the most out of it.

5. Use Emotion-Centric Human Photos

Studies show that people rely on emotions instead of information when making brand decisions. Portraying genuine emotions in your ad effectively grabs the audience’s interest as they can relate to those emotions.

The selection of these photos begins by analyzing your prospects. Try to find out what triggers their emotions and curiosity. You can conduct an online poll or survey them via email. Knowing the likes and dislikes of your audience will enable you to put your finger on the images that will spike their interest.

When Coca-Cola changed its tagline from “Open Happiness” to “Taste the Feeling,” it focused on showing images of people happily connecting and engaging with each other.

Hence, an ad with positive vibes is more likely to touch hearts and encourage viewers to visit the website. This is because humans can relate to other humans. So, it is essential to pick images in which solid and relevant emotions are used to deliver a message.

6. Keep Your Images Crisp And Clean

Every campaign runs on an agenda. However, it is imperative to follow some fundamental rules when choosing stock images, like keeping it simple.

A crisp and clean image delivers a to-the-point message compared to busy photos bursting with colors. They allow the audience to capture the focal idea of an ad.

Source: Facebook Ads Library

Check out this clutter-free ad by Kekoa Foods. A simple image of a dad feeding his son against a clean background is aesthetically pleasing and relatively straightforward. The brand has performed a brilliant job at providing essential details in the caption and a plain yet creative photo to spike the audience’s interest.

Besides this, you should beware of the blurry or disoriented stock photos. Colors that can’t transition well or dark lights are some indicators of poor-quality images. Budget constraints may compel you to opt for low-caliber images, but you should avoid them as much as possible.

Several stock photo libraries provide images ranging from free to those priced at a few dollars. We strongly suggest you keep digging until you spot a high-resolution image. Compromising on the quality can harm your entire marketing campaign.


7. A/B Test Your Ad

A/B testing involves running two ads simultaneously. It enables you to figure out the images that resonate most with your audience.

We recommend you insert the same elements such as the call-to-action (CTAs), tagline, and logo on both ads. Meanwhile, changing the stock images will allow you to understand which stock photo will gain the most traction.

Testing these images lets you understand which ones are apt for your brand. You can then make conversion-worthy decisions when choosing stock photos for future campaigns.

Final Words

Stock photos are an excellent resource for ads if you use them the right way. Start by checking the license details of your chosen images to avoid falling into a legal mess. Next, follow the tips mentioned above, and you will definitely notice a surge in your engagement rates. Good Luck! 


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