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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).
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 type||File type||File size limit||Dimensions|
|Facebook – single-image||JPG or PNG||30MB||1200 x 628 px|
|Facebook – carousel||JPG or PNG||30MB||1080 x 1080 px|
|Instagram – single-image||JPG or PNG||30MB||1080 x 1080 px or 1200 x 628 px|
|Instagram – carousel||JPG or PNG||30MB||Min. 600 x 600 px
Max. 1080 x 1080 px
|Google – landscape||JPG||1MB||1200 x 628 px|
|Google – square||JPG||1MB||1200 x 1200 px|
Choose your style
Whether you sell 6-panel hats or canoes, you’ll want to use images that best capture your product and are tailored to a specific ad platform.
On Instagram, for example, a product-focused image of a canoe against a plain background is more likely to see engagement. But on Facebook, a lifestyle image that shows someone riding in the canoe tends to be more effective than one that only focuses on the product.
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 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?
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 knit hat. We see some background to make it feel more natural, but the emphasis is on the product.
In the image on the right, it isn’t clear whether the hat or coat should grab your attention. For one, the hat’s been cut off at the top, and the focus seems to be on the model, not the product. It’s sometimes a good idea to showcase a few things from your store in 1 image, but make sure the product you’re actually promoting is the star.
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, only has the company logo in the bottom-left corner, keeping the focus on the products. If they have a special discount for customers to use, they might include it in the 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.