As a PPC professional, you know how challenging it can be to get your ads noticed. It’s especially true when advertising on social media.

Users scroll and scan, not read their feeds; so, a well-written ad copy is not enough for them to notice and get interested in your offer. Since they are 65% more likely to remember visual information, it’s time to pay more attention to images you use for ads campaigns.

Why is it important?

Ad design communicates and presents a brand to the public. Visuals you use in PPC ads on social media give people a reason to stop scrolling, click, learn more, and eventually buy from you. No matter how fantastic your product or offer is, no one will care if its ad is visually unappealing and dull.

Below you’ll find seven secrets behind choosing (and designing) compelling images for your PPC campaigns on social media. When done right, not only does such visual content grab user attention, but it also influences engagement and conversion by far.

So, here we go!

1) Size Matters

The fundamentals go first. No matter how beautiful and relevant the image is, it won’t work if you forget about an advertising platform’s size requirements. Aspect ratio and minimum dimensions are worth considering for your ad to wow users and draw them in.

Here  is a cheat sheet to use:

Source: Screenshot of Google Sheet 

Remember that many people will see your ads on mobile, not desktop screens only; so, it’s critical to stick to image size rules for your visuals to remain high-quality and well-displayed. You can always resize images if needed, but please don’t take this detail for granted.

If ignored, you can find your PPC ad images auto-cropped, with the whole exposition gone and your vital information left out. Pixels, resolution, aspect ratio — everything matters if you aim for the highest quality.

2) Say No to Stock Photos

We bet you’ve heard about Everywhere Girl and Women Laughing at Salad. Both are striking examples of how stock photos can kill authenticity and user trust. And the problem is not with those photos themselves, but the way advertisers and designers implement them in their works:

Most consider them an easy and relatively cheap way to communicate a message and save time on content creation. Stock photos are so overused by marketers and advertisers that users can recognize them from a mile away: With so many unique and professional visual works available today, people don’t want to see pictures that look artificial and don’t tell a story.

Plus, it’s a sign for them that a brand doesn’t care about the content it shares with the audience.

But what should you use in social media PPC ads instead?

  • Your product images
  • Behind-the-scene images
  • Pictures of employees or owners behind your brand
  • Seasonal photos with a product or a team, with a festive border
  • Quiz images to engage users and motivate them to click


If you still need to use a stock photo, do your best to find one that looks as authentic and relatable as possible. Services like Unsplash or Shopify’s Burst are excellent for a start. Also, consider making that stock picture “yours:” zoom in or crop if applicable, customize its colors, adjust filters, etc.

3) Consider Color Psychology

When designing your PPC ad for social media, the colors you choose for its visual elements can be no less significant than your text. Remember that about 90% of our judgments on products draw on their color alone?

More than that, different colors have different psychological effects on people, making them associate your product (brand) with certain feelings or emotions. Why do you think most fast food companies are red? It’s a color evoking hunger and desire from the audience:

Source: Made with MS Paint

With that in mind, be deliberate and thoughtful when choosing colors for your social media ads. Complementary/contrasting colors of your images will help grab user attention, define your brand identity, and associate your offer with specific emotions.

Best practices to try:

  • Use your brand colors if you have any. (Even if you choose a stock photo for your social media ad, you can use brand kits instruments from online editing tools like Canva or VistaCreate to personalize it.)
  • Keep it simple: Try sticking to 2-3 colors in your ad image to hold attention and avoid overwhelming. The same rule works for Facebook– or Instagram carousels: Choosing a few high-contrast yet complementing colors for all the photos, will boost engagement and the ad’s overall conversion.


4) Use Faces

Numerous studies have proven that pictures with human faces drive 38% more engagement and attract comments. It’s all about human psychology again.

Most of us look at a face when we first meet a person, and their faces help connect with them right away. Plus, we can’t ignore eye gaze. So we’ll subconsciously react to a picture with people in it, and that is why marketers recommend showing people using a product rather than simply displaying that product by itself.

Social media is all about seeing updates from friends, family, favorite influencers, and people behind brands. That’s why your ad image with a person in it will look like it belongs to their news feed and won’t alienate them at once.

But, sure thing, consider photos with faces only if they are relevant to what you promote and help convey your brand’s message. Plus, it doesn’t mean you need to ignore all other great images only because there are no faces in them.


5) Display Benefits

It stands to reason that your PPC ads should resonate with the target audience so they would take a second look and get engaged with it. For that, you need to address their pain points and tell why they should care.

Long story short, your ad image needs to display a clear value proposition for users to understand what they’ll receive and what makes your offer better than others.

Think of it as the “why” behind your call to action.

Yes, you can display all the benefits in your ad’s text; but given that your image is the first element the audience will see, it needs to communicate them too, for users to put their mind to further reading.

6) Add Texts Only If Appropriate

The most critical point to remember here: Your PPC ad is not a flyer, so please don’t overwhelm its visual components with text. Not only does it cover image elements, but it may also negatively impact your ad’s performance.

Social media platforms have a limit for the amount of text you can use in photos (20% on Facebook, for example), and when exceeded, your ad won’t reach the target audience or won’t run at all.

What to do? Keep your text short and straightforward, placing it to a small corner of your ad image, or don’t add any text at all.


Here go some tricks of persuasive writing to help:

  • Use numbers. This allows communicating your ad’s benefit brief and to the point. “50% off!” or “3 for 2” are the examples to consider.
  • Try the word “FREE.” It’s short, it draws attention, and your audience will 100% love the idea of getting something for nothing: free shipping, free download, free consultation — it can boost the engagement rate of your ads by far.
  • Add only one call to action. A CTA is a must for your PPC ad to have, but make sure you place just one to a single ad to save space and avoid confusion. Choose the most appropriate one when designing your ad for social media.

And last but not least here, consider easy-to-read text overlays for your ads; plus, use no more than one to two fonts to celebrate consistency and better readability.

7) Keep Your Copy and Image Consistent

Let’s face it, who didn’t see PPC ads on Facebook or Instagram where images had nothing to do with their copies and vice versa? For your ad to influence the audience, you need to ensure that all its elements are cohesive, communicating one clear objective.

What do you want to pursue with an ad, introduce your brand, evoke user interest,  invite and persuade them to buy from you?

Choose an image accordingly. There shouldn’t be any disconnect between what the audience sees and what they read in your ad copy., Why post a photo of a smiling lady with an ad for sharp knives?

In a Word

Most people are visual learners, and that is why your PPC ad images speak at a higher volume rather than text captions. Their size, quality, colors, and context — everything matters to represent your brand to the public, engage them, and influence their decision to click.

So, please don’t underestimate the power of visuals when choosing images for PPC ads on social media. Stop relying on overused stock photos, consider visuals that communicate your value proposition, and keep your cool when sticking text elements on them.