Your Cheat Sheet for Getting Ad Images Right

Quick and easy tips for creating images that work in your Facebook, Instagram, and Google remarketing ads.

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This quick guide will help you learn what types of images work best in Facebook, Instagram, and Google remarketing ads. We’ve put everything you need to know in one place, so you never have to commit it to memory (unless you want to).

Start here

The secret to making beautiful ads isn’t so secret: You need to get the right photos. Of course your images should have a wow factor that draws people in, but they should also meet the requirements of whatever advertising platform you’re using. Stick to these guidelines to keep your ad from running into any issues.

Ad typeFile typeFile size limitDimensions
Facebook – single-imageJPG or PNG30MB1200 x 628 px
Facebook – carouselJPG or PNG30MB1080 x 1080 px
Instagram – single-imageJPG or PNG30MB1080 x 1080 px or 1200 x 628 px
Instagram – carouselJPG or PNG30MBMin. 600 x 600 px, Max. 1080 x 1080 px
Google – landscapeJPG1MB1200 x 628 px
Google – squareJPG1MB1200 x 1200 px

Facebook

Instagram

Google remarketing

Choose your style

No matter what you sell, you’ll want to use images that best capture your product and are tailored to a specific platform.

On Instagram, for example, a product-focused image of a succulent against a plain background is more likely to see engagement. But on Facebook, a lifestyle image that shows someone potting a succulent tends to be more effective than one that only focuses on the plant.

Product-focused

Detailed close-ups of a product in Instagram and Google remarketing ads usually perform well.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking your product-focused images:

  • Light vs. neutral backgrounds. A light or neutral background is the standard for most product-focused photography, but it’s not always the best choice. Chris Daley, owner of 1250Ships.com, found that using product-focused images with dark backgrounds in his retargeting ads led to a greater ROI than images with light backgrounds. So do some testing and choose the background that makes your products pop.
  • Get detailed. Show as much of your product in a shot as you can. The more your customers see, the sooner they’ll be ready to buy.
  • Make your own studio. Place your product on a stable surface to make it easier to photograph, and set up your photoshoot in a place where you can get good natural light. Studio lighting, if you have it, is also a great option.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle images show what your products look like out in the world. They focus on the people and environment that represent a brand to tell a story. These slice-of-life photos usually perform well on Facebook, because they fit naturally with the types of photos your friends post. Here are some things to think about:

  • Include people. Putting people in your product photos can help boost trust in your brand. It’s a great way to show your customers how something fits, works, or can become part of their everyday lives. If hiring models for a photoshoot isn’t in your budget, take a cue from UOI Boutique and ask your friends for help.  
  • Find the right location. Pick a spot that gives customers context about what you’re selling. If you sell swimsuits, find a pool where you can take some photos. If you sell blenders, choose a kitchen.

Are stock photos OK?

Stock photos are ready-to-use images you can pay a fee to use for your own projects. On the internet, it’s a running joke that there’s a stock photo to represent pretty much anything (and you can often tell when you’re looking at a stock image). That’s not to say that you should never use stock images. If you know what to look for, finding the right stock photos can save you some time.

The ad on the left uses a good example of a stock lifestyle image: It’s vibrant, high-quality, and natural.

The ad on the right uses a stock image that looks dated, posed, and generic. Which ad would you rather click on?

Tip: If you need to use a stock photo, find one that looks genuine and relatable. Start with free services like Unsplash and Shopify’s Burst.

To zoom, or not to zoom?

Zoom in on your products to help your customers make up their mind about buying—sometimes the decision is in the details.  

The ad image on the left does a good job focusing on the plants. We see some background to make it feel more natural, but the emphasis is on the product.

The image on the right is zoomed in too much on the succulents, to the point where one of the plants is cut off. While your photos should focus on the stuff you’re promoting, you don’t want to zoom in so much that your product is obscured.

Tip: Forget to zoom in when you were taking your photos? Editing tools like Photoshop and mobile apps like Snapseed and Autodesk Pixlr help you crop images so you get a closer view of your products.

Should you add text?

Having too much text in your images can negatively impact your ad’s performance. Most platforms have a limit for the amount of text that can be in a photo, so we suggest keeping it to a small corner of the image or not using it at all.

Don’t treat your ad image like a flier. The example on the right includes copy that would be more effective as a caption, description, or headline. Not only is the text covering the products, but there’s also a good chance the ad won’t run or reach its intended audience.

The image on the left, however, doesn’t include any text, keeping the focus on the products. If there’s a special discount code you want your customers to use, you can highlight it in your ad’s description.

Tip: If the amount of text in your image is 20% or more of its pixels, your ad could be rejected. Take a look at a few more examples for guidance.

More ways to look like a pro

  1. Frame your shot with the rule of thirds. Use 2 intersecting vertical and horizontal lines to divide your image into 9 equal squares, so you can place your subject off to the side instead of in the center. This adds interest to your photo by drawing attention to the composition.
  2. Focus on what’s important. Get a close-up of your subject or product to make sure it stands out against everything else in the photo. Be sure to adjust your camera’s depth of field or hold your smartphone steady to get a clear shot.
  3. Find the right light. Natural light will cost you nothing, and it doesn’t take much skill to master. The downside is that it can be unpredictable. While artificial light gives you more control, it can also be costly and has a steep learning curve. Choose the lighting option that works best for your budget and skill level.
  4. Keep the background neutral. Neutral backgrounds help keep the focus on your subject. If you want to use a more interesting or textured background, zoom in on your subject to make it bigger and clearer than anything else in the shot.