About two years ago, Google converted AdWords into Google Ads. Because the advertising platform has hardly been about keywords for a long time. Rather, ad formats with images are more important today.
Sayings like “The power of pictures” or “A picture is worth a thousand words” have come across most of us in various places. It is often discussed that images can be grasped more quickly at the psychological level and have a higher emotional value for the viewer than texts.
This is also evident from the steadily growing range of advertising formats that Google Ads has introduced in recent years: many advertising formats use images. In addition to classic image ads, shopping ads, and the no longer so new responsive display ads, formats such as showcase shopping ads, discovery ads, local ads, or even gallery ads have been introduced. The special features and advantages of the individual ad types will be discussed later.
Whether and to what extent you should use these types of ads depends on your goals, industry, and resources. However, it has been shown that not doing so can result in a clear competitive disadvantage in some cases. Image ad formats are also a great way to expand your reach and attract new customers.
Image design requirements
Depending on which ad format you want to use images for, different requirements must be observed. Ideally, you should always keep a few basic things in mind when creating creatives in order to make images easily usable for different formats. In this way, you can save resources and spontaneously switch to new ad formats without having to wait for new images.
The following points can help:
- Don’t include watermarks
- Do not set frames (for example, for product images for shopping)
- Do not use thumbnails
- Do not insert any advertising elements (call-to-actions, logo, price information)
- No blurry pictures
- Create images in both landscape and square format (1.91: 1 and 1: 1)
- Resolution not too low (usually at least 600 x 314 or 314 x 314)
- For most types of advertisements, a max. Image size of about 5 MB
- No misleading content
- Images must take up the entire area of the image size (no cut edges on the sides)
- No illegible text
- 20 percent of the image area may contain text
- No flickering or lighting effects
For newer ad formats such as discovery ads or showcase shopping ads, emotional images that convey a certain mood are particularly suitable. This mood should match the products to be advertised.
Pure product images are often perceived as boring and do not stand out, so that more images are used for shopping, for example, on which models wear the products.
New (more) Google Ads ad formats with images
Image ad formats or ads that consist of images are no longer only displayed in the display network, which comprises around two million websites and apps. They have also found their way into Google search, YouTube, Gmail, or the Discover Feed.
Responsive display ads
All you have to do for responsive display ads is enter text modules, the company name, logos (optional), and images. Using a drop-down, it is also possible to add a request for action and to determine a color selection.
The advertising platform aims to provide the advertisements in a way that suits the environment so that they do not stand out too much as advertisements. For this purpose, background colors (if not preset), as well as combinations and sizes of the individual elements, are automatically adjusted by Google Ads so that your effort is very little.
You can purchase licenses for thematically appropriate images from databases such as iStock, pixabay, or Fotolia by Adobe or Adobe Stock, which means that even classic image editing or creation is hardly necessary.
In addition, there is no need to provide a variety of formats with responsive display ads. One square and one rectangular image are sufficient.
The following size requirements must be observed here:
- Image landscape format: aspect ratio 1.91: 1, resolution at least 600 x 314 pixels
- Image square format: aspect ratio 1: 1, resolution at least 300 x 300 pixels
- Logo landscape format: aspect ratio 4: 1, resolution at least 512 x 128 pixels
- Logo square format: aspect ratio 1: 1, resolution at least 128 x 128 pixels
Basically, you shouldn’t put any text on the pictures. Nevertheless, should you decide to do so, a maximum text coverage of 20 percent of the image area is usually allowed. It should also be noted that in some cases, the image material is trimmed a little so that essential information or features should not be too close to the edge. The maximum size of the image files is 5,120 KB.
Responsive display ads can be used for display campaigns and remarketing campaigns. They are simple to create and save resources. However, the assessment of the result is a matter of taste. In addition, those of you who love control may be more reluctant to use this format, as you have no influence on the combinations of elements.
However, if you decide on the format and design the appropriate image material, it makes sense to keep other possible ad types in mind. Images that meet responsive display ads’ requirements can often also be used for showcase shopping ads (landscape format only), gallery ads, and discovery ads.
If you want to use the same image material for local advertisements, you should play it safe and observe a slightly higher minimum resolution (square format at least 314 x 314 pixels). Google Support has instructions for creating responsive display ads.
An alternative to responsive display ads are standard display ads (also called image ads).
Display ads (image ads, image ads)
Granted, display ads aren’t a new ad format. As a demarcation or alternative to responsive display ads, this type of ad should still be briefly discussed, as it can be used for the same campaigns.
Display ads usually consist of an image, a short text with information about the product or service, the brand logo, and a request for action (for example, in the form of a button). The components are, therefore, identical to the responsive display ad. The main difference is that the display ad are uploaded as a finished image. So Google does not put together an ad from individual elements.
Display ads can be both animated and static. Allowed file types are GIF, JPG, and PNG, with each file being a maximum of 150 KB.
Since finished ads are already uploaded, you have to provide display ads in different sizes and formats in order to display them in different ad environments. You can also find a list of the most common sizes at Google Support.
The advantage of the display ads is clearly that you can design them exactly according to your taste, and thus you have full control over your ads. It is also possible to create these in the same way as other advertising measures in order to achieve a particularly high branding effect.
This, in turn, requires creating creatives in a variety of formats, which costs time and resources. Not everyone has the possibilities and the know-how to create the image material in the desired quality, especially regarding the fact that the advertisements should also be replaced regularly if necessary. A cooperation with a creative agency can help.
Showcase shopping ads
Showcase shopping ads are a form of shopping ads in which not only a product is shown, but a header image (landscape format) is uploaded to represent a group of your products. Individual product images from the shopping feed are placed in front of this header image during display.
On the one hand, showcase shopping ads are very dominant, as they are mostly played out on the move and take up a lot of space. On the other hand, they offer you the option of displaying several products at the same time.
Therefore, they are particularly suitable for generic search queries where the user is still undecided and is presented with a larger selection through the showcase display (see example). Since their introduction, they have proven to be particularly valuable for addressing new customers. After all, around 80 percent of the clicks on showcase shopping ads are from new customers.
The upstream product images are dynamically drawn from the feed for the search query. And the header images that are stored in your ad are interesting.
You should set up showcase shopping ads in such a way that the advertised products fit together thematically within an ad group. This can be controlled by only assigning ad groups a certain selection of brands or categories from the feed. This way, you can ensure that your ads that are stored in the ad groups really match the products being advertised.
In the example, we can see that the ad text as well as the landing page and the header image match the blouse category and thus satisfy the user’s search. Only one header image in landscape format is required for each ad. In terms of sizes, you can stick to the specifications for the responsive display ads.
Medium to large stores, in particular, should make use of Showcase Shopping ads, as it has been shown that Showcase Shopping ads have completely supplanted normal Shopping ads for some search queries. If small shops have the opportunity to use this type of ad, they should definitely try it out too. Google Support also provides instructions on this topic.
You can also use the same image material for discovery ads as for responsive display ads. Clickable texts or buttons, as well as elements that appear to be clickable, are not permitted. In addition to the regular Discovery display, which consists of an image and text (see example in the middle), there is also the Discovery carousel display, to which a maximum of ten cards can be added.
Each card consists of two pictures (one each in landscape and square format), a title, and a call-to-action. The advantage of the carousel ads is that you can swipe through several image elements, and you can add a landing page and title to each map. If you want to use this type of ad, you must first create a discovery campaign.
Additional users can be addressed with discovery ads, as they can be displayed on Gmail, YouTube, and in the Discover feed.
Discovery ads’ basic idea is to address users when they are in “discovery mode”, that is, they are just being showered with new content and are thus more receptive to advertising. This means that discovery campaigns are usually also more powerful than regular display campaigns. In order not to disturb users while browsing, you should rely on mood images for Discovery ads. The presentation of bare products can stand out too strongly as advertising in this context.
Local ads are interesting for your company if you have several locations and want to advertise them in addition to increase the number of store visits. There are various display options for this type of ad, and the ads can be found on Google Maps, in Google search, on YouTube, or on the display network.
The possibilities for increasing the range are therefore enormous. Local ads use a slightly higher resolution than the other ad types for their square format images: 314 x 314 pixels.
In order to be able to place local ads, you first have to set up your own campaign, just like for the discovery ads. All information for creating a local campaign as usual at Google Support.
Based on the examples, it can already be seen that local ads score with interior views or exterior shots of the shop. With the map details, users can call up directions directly from the display. When users visit a store after interacting with the ads, this is recorded as a “store visits” conversion action in their Google Ads account. Information on shop visits is based on anonymized statistics.
With the local ads, you can advertise all locations from the Google My Business account as well as (only), one location group. For example, this is useful when certain stores want to advertise promotions that other locations don’t. This requires creating separate campaigns for each store selection, as the location type (Google My Business or location group) is set at the campaign level.
Gallery ads have been in beta since last summer, so they are not yet fully activated for all accounts. They are only played mobile and in the top position (when they are played). They are the first ad format with images for Google Search. If your account is activated for the gallery advertisements, you will find them as a selection option under the advertisement types of search campaigns.
Gallery advertisements contain four to eight images, each with a description and one to three headings. With pictures and texts, you should make sure that they tell a “story”. The order of the images and above all the lines of text should be consistent, as the user always swipes through the ad in the same order.
Since gallery advertisements can only be seen in position 1, the possible range is limited and usually also cost-intensive. So far, they have not been played out too often, and even Google hardly gives any information on setup or optimization.
Gallery advertisements can be of interest to you if there are very good creatives that should also advertise generic terms with emotional texts. Since they are currently rarely played, it is already rumored that Google could crush the format in the long term.
There is a lot of potential in the image ad formats that Google Ads provides as they address a wide range of needs. Depending on the type of business and industry, you may not need to use all ad types, but the Showcase Shopping ads, in particular, are essential for shops.
Companies that have physical locations in addition to their online presence can increase store visits through local ads, and anyone who wants to make their company better known in general can hardly avoid ads on the display network or discovery ads. Wherever you look, image ads are everywhere.