Images are an understandably powerful tool in today’s modern media environment. Even the most habitual feed-scroller will stop and pay attention to a great graphic.
Sharethrough’s neuroscience research found that native ads receive twice as much visual focus as banner ads. Marketers need to make the most of this opportunity with their in-feed creatives. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, for today’s brands a thousand (figurative) extra words can make all of the difference when they’re trying to leverage each microsecond of consumer attention they have and pull someone in.
For any marketer trying to find the right thumbnail to make their campaign pop, here are a few tips for getting it just right.
Tip 1: Faces engage the audience
Faces are a great way to make an emotional connection with your audience. The facial expressions in your ads can be emotionally contagious for the people looking at them and we’ve even seen that close-up images can help boost extra emotional engagement. It’s actually no surprise that faces can have a powerful impact on us, when you consider that there’s a special section of our brains that specializes in facial recognition.
A couple of best practices to keep in mind if you are including faces: it’s always best to show faces head-on and expressing clear emotion. Ambiguous or neutral faces have much less effect on an audience.
Tip 2: Go with what people know
By using familiar imagery with your in-feed ad placements, you help trigger audience memories. Including things people recognize, like the celebrity in your current TV commercial, quickly connects your message to something they might have seen before and can strengthen the mental ties you want to create between your brand and its benefits.
Tip 3: When in doubt, choose brighter colors
Your ad is going into the feed among an endless stream of content competing for your audience’s attention. Going with monochromatic imagery may mean your brand gets drowned out by competing content. Alternatively, bright colors pop.
Tip 4: Match the emotion of the picture to the experience you’re trying to sell
Try using an image that cues mental triggers about the experience you’re looking to promote. For example, if McDonald's is promoting a new line of coffee, it is more powerful for them to show someone holding a cup of coffee to their mouth, breathing in the aroma, than just a cup of coffee. Taking this approach can trigger specific mirror neurons in the minds of your audience. They will subconsciously imagine themselves inside the experience you're trying to promote and become more sympathetic to your message.