As online marketers, our industry is changing all the time. Each quarter of the year brings different online marketing challenges that require different media buying strategies. Not to mention variables out of our control, like the impact of a global pandemic on online advertising or changes to a platform’s rules and publishing policies.

So, while media buying tactics are very diverse and ever-changing, the question that arises is, “What are the tried and true practices that we as media buyers and campaign managers know to work for us 99% of the time?” For the answer to this question, we turned our focus to the campaign itself. More specifically, to the images and copywriting we use to promote our content.

Our team of media buyers spent time studying and evaluating how our campaigns perform on various platforms, like Taboola, Outbrain, Facebook, and Yahoo Gemini (to name some of the more well-known), to see if we could identify common successes – either across platforms or consistently on one platform.

Here are our main take-aways for the creative aspect of campaign management:

1. Your campaign title and image should be interesting enough on their own, but tell a story together.
Bottom line, your image should be strong enough on its own to catch the attention of consumers (as it’s the first thing that they will see), and your copy should be strong enough on its own that had the consumer never seen the photo they would be too intrigued not to click on the headline. After all, that is the ultimate goal, right? To drive as many clicks as you can to your campaign. If you’re counting on one carrying the other, it’s almost certain that you won’t see those high CTRs. Both the image and the title must be compelling separately and when paired together, tell your story in a way that can’t be avoided by the consumer.

2. Cropping. Is. Everything!
One of the big differences, if not the main difference, between a successful campaign and a mediocre campaign is the storytelling. With that comes the challenge of striking a balance between telling just enough of your story to remain intriguing and giving away the whole story. Never reveal in your image the answer to the question or mystery you posed in your copy. This is where cropping becomes your best friend. Crop out just enough so that the consumer can draw their own conclusions to what the answer might be.

For example: Let’s pretend you are promoting an article titled, “The 30 Most Shocking Red Carpet Dresses Ever” and the copy of your campaign is, “You Won’t Believe What Happened To Emma Watson’s Red Carpet Look.” Your first creative approach should most likely be to show a bust shot of Emma Watson with a strong expression on her face, not a full length image of Emma’s gown on the red carpet. In this case, crop out the dress and let the consumer’s mind run wild with possibility!

“You Won’t Believe What Happened To Emma Watson’s Red Carpet Look.”

3. Eye catching images.
Your campaign is approximately 70% the work of your image and 30% the work of your copy. That’s not to say your copy isn’t as important as your images are, rather that’s to say that 70% of the time, image is going to do the work upfront to catch the attention of the consumer. Your copy is the final 30% that leads the consumer to click on your campaign. Again, quality copy is no less important than quality imagery, but to make sure consumers actually see your copy, here are some go-to guidelines when selecting and editing your campaign creatives:

Brightly colored, high-quality images.
Don’t use busy photos. Have one focal point that makes it easy understand the story.
Don’t rely on small details in the image to catch the consumer’s attention.
Use photos with strong emotion.
Use candid, authentic, real photos 100% of the time.
Lead with the juiciest details/words in your copy (you can’t guarantee the hook you saved for the end will be seen).
Give the consumer a personal reason to click (Example: “Do You Remember This 70’s Star?”)

4. Authentic images over stock photos, always.
The Internet is inundated with Photoshopped image after fake pic after perfectly staged stock photos. There is plenty of artificial and “perfect” imagery going around that consumers want something, yes, unbelievable, but more so something real. Don’t sabotage your authentic story with an artificial campaign. Always opt for images that are candid and real over stock images.

Repeat after me, “I promise to never use stock photos!”

Your campaign is competing against a lot of content on the Internet. We hope by using these simple tips that it will give your campaign the best chance to beat out all the other “visual noise” online.

Marketing Team

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