How To Get The Most Out of Your Display Images

Getting your imagery right for your display adverts is crucial to getting those customers onto your site, but how should you go about choosing the imagery?

Written by Tom 21 September 2017

Display advertising, on Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo Gemini, is the big new thing in the digital marketing world. In 2014, the purchasing of desktop display adverts eclipsed search advertising for the very first time, and a year later, display advertising on mobile followed suit.

Display adverts aren’t quite as easy to set up as search adverts, there’s more thought that needs to go into the process, and more effort in creating, and using, the right imagery. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be thinking through the text on your search adverts, on the contrary, but the psychology of your images needs some deep thought.

Let us run you through the most important characteristics you need to be thinking about when planning and developing your display adverts.

Understand The Purpose

Before you go about even creating your adverts, you need to understand why you want to get in to using display advertising. Are you looking to boost your brand awareness? Are you trying to drive a direct sale? Are you seeking to multiply the e-mail addresses in your database? Each approach requires a different tactic to make sure your ads are running effectively.

From there you need to delve into your customer base, or potential customer base, and work out what type of audience, and demographic, you want to be targeting with your adverts. Psychology is so important with imagery, and some images will work better for some audiences than others. Have a look at what’s working for you with imagery on your website, or offline, and check what your competitors are doing. Taking inspiration from a wide range of different competitors is a great way to find new ideas.

Have a think about your retargeting ads too. Trying to get a conversion from someone who’s already visited your website will require a different approach with different imagery and substance. Maybe you don’t need to advertise your product here, maybe you can catch their eye with a special offer image. Whatever you think will work for your business, go with that. No one knows your customer quite like you.

Trigger Emotion

This is what will get you the clicks to your website. By arousing any kind of emotional reaction in potential customers you will not only catch the eye of the user, but also their mind, and maybe even their heart (if you’re good enough!).

Don’t go for generic stock imagery, those type of images are seen way too often, and people’s minds will only wander straight past it like it’s not even there. Inspire them with images they’ve never seen before, use emotive language to surprise them, to make them happy, or to make them feel or think differently.

Emotion is so powerful in marketing, in many cases it’s the key to success. By creating desire, anger, happiness, despair, disgust, or fear, you’re hitting the consumer just in the right place. Don’t go generic, think outside the box, and catch that user’s imagination. You need to stand out in this market, and by pulling on the heart strings, that’s how you do it.

Colours too. They have a real effect on people’s emotions. Each colour has a psychological association, check the image below:

 Once you have chosen your colour make sure the text on the image is easy to read too. There’s nothing more annoying than a website or an advert which has writing which you can’t read.

But don’t get too carried away here, you do need to stay on brand, but at least bear in mind the colour chart when you’re thinking of your image, which leads us on to our next point nicely...

Stay on Brand

This is quite similar to the first point, but you need to keep the ethos of your brand firmly in your mind when you’re creating images for your adverts. Using flashy, tacky, multicoloured, special offer banners while you’re selling luxury products for example is a big no no.

The display ads you create should match the look and feel of your website, and offline livery. Using similar colours, fonts, and type of imagery is crucial to creating that linear, synergistic feel so the users who click on your ad almost already mentally know what they’re expecting before they get on to your site. And for remarketing too, this is doubly important.

It’s all well and good getting a lot of clicks, but if you’re never going to convert the person who clicked on your ad, you’re just wasting your money. Of course, you want users getting to your website, but you need to make sure they’re the right users.


There are two keys to display advertising success: staying true to your brand, and inspiring emotion. But you do need to mix up what you send out too, stick to those guiding principles, but tweak your adverts ever so slightly, and create a wide range of images and ads so you know what's working for you. From there you can escalate the ad spend on the ad's that are performing well so you can make the most out of them.

Once you start doing that, and you have a selection of ads that you are running, whilst remaining true to your brand, triggering on emotion, and understanding your audience and the purpose your ads, you'll definitely make your display advertising a success.

Take your time, don't rush into it, and trust your instincts.