As online marketing grows, it’s becoming imperative that we as advertisers find ways to set ourselves apart from the competition. We’ve written many posts in the past about the importance of ad text testing, so below you will find a few tips and tricks to help include image ads in your mix if you decide they fit your business objectives.

Image Ads

Image ads (a.k.a. banner ads) are run on the content network, and they are a great way to add an additional variable to your ad testing, and reach your customers in a new way. Here are some of the basics that you should know before deciding whether or not you should include image ads in your marketing strategy.

  • Image ads can be created for both keyword-targeted and placement-targeted campaigns.
  • Your image ads will not show up on every site within the content network, because owners have to opt-in to allowing them. In order to ensure that your ads always have a chance of showing, have a text ad for every image ad.
  • Animated ads are allowed for both keyword-targeted and placement-targeted campaigns.
  • The image file cannot exceed 50k.
  • You can create an image ad in both the Google interface and the desktop tool.
  • There are multiple size options for image ads, and you can visit the Google help center to see a full listing of the accepted image ad sizes.
  • RGB color format is recommended, because some display devices may not accept CMYK formatting, and the process of reformatting the image (called color matching) is complicated, and has the potential of just showing a broken link instead.
  • Use the placement tool to determine which image formats a site allows, so you can be sure that your ads will show on those specific sites.
  • In order to include your site URL and a feedback URL, Google may resize your image vertically, but never horizontally. If you want to keep the original proportions, create your ads using these resized formats.

Bidding Structure

The bidding structure for image ads is the same as text, and it allows you to set your bids and daily budgets. When working with image ads, be aware that bids are generally higher than those for text ads, but smart pricing still applies. You can choose either CPC or CPM bidding, but a CPM bid is for a placement-targeted campaign only, and those bids tend to be even higher, because you are vying for a specific position. No matter the type of targeting or ad you use, be sure that your budget is set accordingly, and put in the time it takes to continuously optimize you campaigns to ensure that you are spending your budget as effectively as possible.

If you decide that image ads are worth testing, follow these steps to get started in the Google interface:

  1. Create a new content network only campaign. It is easier to analyze the success of your campaigns when you keep search and content separate.
  2. Adjust your campaign settings. Choose whether you would like to have your campaign be keyword-targeted or placement-targeted. This is also where you will set your Max CPC bids, and daily budgets.
  3. Create your ad groups. Remember to keep your ad groups tightly themed, just as you would in a search campaign.
  4. Determine the size of your ad. Evaluate the sites that you are going to be targeting to determine the size of ads you want to display for optimal results.
  5. Create your ads. Some sites do not allow image ads, so be sure to create a text ad that corresponds with each image ad so you can be sure your advertisements are being shown. This will also help you determine the success of your image ads in comparison to text ads.
    1. You can have both an image and a text ad running in the same ad group. If you have both, Google will determine which is the best option to show on the site.
    2. Your image name should be descriptive, and it’s recommended to use the campaign and ad group as well so you can easily identify the ad in reports, and the image will be better matched with content sites.
    3. Monitor your ads. Within the AdWords interface, you can run an ad performance report for your image ads to monitor their success, and make informed decisions for optimizations.

Image ads can be a great way to engage your customers and stand out on a page. Our eyes tend to gravitate toward images over text, so if you want to make an impact on your customers, especially on sites that are competitive, image ads might be a great way to go. As with any ad, always be sure to test, test, and test again! By not only testing image ads against each other, but also against text ads, you be able to gather enough data to determine whether or not image ads are a profitable way to expand your reach.