What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of an ad?


And that’s not surprising because they play an essential role in grabbing our attention, improving our experience, and making us react.

Your ad copy, persuasive CTR, and catchy headline aren’t guaranteed to win over your target if you miss that crucial visual element. But what type of photos should you use?

The answer to this varies from business to business. While product-focused companies rely solely on product shots, service providers have different alternatives at their disposal.

One of them is stock photos!

What Are Stock Photos?

Stock photos are ready-to-use images designed for both personal and commercial projects. You can source high-quality images by paying a small fee for the license. They are available to represent almost anything. Plus, they are sourced carefully by stock photo agencies, so you don’t have to compromise on quality.

But if you want to make your ads really stand out, it’s crucial to choose stock photographs carefully. When implemented strategically in your ads, these images will catch your audience’s attention and boost conversion rates.

Here are some strategies to help you choose the right stock photo for your ad and ensure it conveys your message.

1. Understand the License

The first rule of using stock photos in your ads is to understand the license. If you don’t follow the guidelines present in the stock photo license, you could find yourself in legal trouble.

This has happened to many businesses in the past, so it’s essential to make sure that you comprehend what a license allows and doesn’t allow.

There are two primary types of licenses for stock photos: Royalty-Free and Rights Managed, and both have their own set of rules.

Royalty-Free Images

This is the most common form of license available for stock photo use. In this license, you pay a one-time fee, and then you can use the image as often as you like.

However, there are still some restrictions on how you’re allowed to use the image. For example, you might not be able to give the images away for free or claim that it’s your own work.

Rights Managed Images

This type of license is more expensive, but it gives you more control over how the image can be used.

This license gives you exclusive rights to use the image, so you don’t have to worry about other businesses using similar pictures and potentially damaging your brand.

But with rights-managed images, you have to pay the licensing fee every time you use them. So, if you’re running an ad campaign that uses the image frequently, it will quickly add up and become expensive.

2. Define Your Ad’s Purpose And Goal

When choosing the right image, it is important to understand your ad’s purpose and goal.

What do you want your audience to feel or do when they see your photo? Are you trying to generate leads or boost sales? Do you want them to feel happy and excited or motivated and inspired?

Your marketing goal will help you narrow down the type of image that you need.

For instance, check this ad from Women’s Hope Medical Clinic:

Ad photo 1

The image of a pregnant woman with a kid clearly shows the purpose of making other women feel comfortable with Women’s Hope Medical Clinic. It also helps them build trust with the clinic for their maternity needs. Such images evoke emotions and, in this case, can help women overcome their fears of maternity.

So, knowing what your audience needs and what the image will be used for is crucial in choosing the right photo.

3. Humanize Your Brand

A “human touch” in your ads helps develop a connection with the audience. Seeing other people in a relatable scenario evokes the ability to empathize. They also feel heard, which ultimately improves engagement.

Use stock photos that feature real people in your ads instead of generic or animated illustrations. For example, if you sell a weight-loss program, what do you think is more relatable: An image of a toned woman eating fresh veggies or an image of a random woman holding a tablet?

Check the screenshot below. These are three different ads for the same weight-loss program. All three are ‘humanized’ with a different woman eating health food.

Ad photo 2

4. Explore Creative Edits

Stock photos are powerful, but they won’t work for all ads. But you can edit them or use them in conjunction with other images to make them unique and more fitting for your brand.

Here are some ways to modify your stock photos:

Crop, rotate, and resize the image: Try to use different parts of the photo to make it more interesting. Crop out unnecessary elements and rotate the image to better fit your ad’s purpose. And if your stock photo is too large or too small, resize it to provide the required ad dimensions.

Edit the colours and contrast: Colour and contrast can make or break your image, so it’s important to edit them to fit your branding. For instance, if you are running a summer sale ad, you might want to use brighter colours to make the image more eye-catching.

Add text or other elements: Adding text or further details to your image can make them resonate with your brand. For example, you might want to add a call-to-action or use text to highlight important features of your product.

Place CTR: Call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most essential elements of an ad, so make sure that it’s placed prominently in your image. The CTA should be clear, concise, and instantly noticeable to your audience.

Here is an example of an ad that has been modified to include all the essential elements:

Ad Photo 3

Do you see this ad about dental services? Doesn’t it perfectly align with the brand’s message?

The old couple with a genuine smile looking at the camera is not only attention-grabbing but also relatable. The headline is prominently placed in the image so that people can’t miss it. The image has been cropped, rotated, and resized to fit the ad.

All these modifications help make stock photos more effective for this particular ad. However, read the terms and conditions present on the stock photo website to ensure editing is permissible.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, stock photos are a powerful tool for improving the performance of your ads. If used correctly, they can help you grab attention, increase engagement, and drive sales. Moreover, they are cost-effective and time-saving as they don’t require a lot of effort.

If you are using stock photos in your ads, make sure to keep these tips in mind, and you’ll see your ad performance improve in no time!