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5 Ways to Optimize Product Photos for Dynamic Remarketing Ads

Dec 7, 2015

Product photography mistakes to avoid and tips for making your product ads look better

Ever wonder why a lot of personalized remarketing ads look the same? They all seem to follow the same template: a boxy grid or carousel of products with titles, prices, and little "Buy now" buttons. All against a plain white background with a small store logo crammed into a corner of the ad.

One reason they all look the same is because one ad template needs to properly accommodate potentially hundreds of thousands of very different products, each with its own photo. The ad needs to take account of product photo attributes such as:

  • Aspect ratio – the ratio of width x height
  • Background color – for the overwhelming majority of online stores, product photo backgrounds are white
  • Bleed – whether photo content goes all the way to the edge of the image area
  • Image detail – what’s the minimum image size before products become hard to see or recognize?
  • Negative space – How much of the photo area is actually taken up by the product itself and how much is just empty space?

Now that dynamic and personalized ads have become the standard for e-commerce retargeting, store owners and marketing staff should start thinking about how a store's library of product images will look when they appear in dynamic retargeting ads.

So here are a few tips:

1. Crop every product photo to the same aspect ratio

It’s difficult for an ad designer to take 100,000 product photos all with different width x height ratios and create an ad that will look good every time. Wide images will look short and squished in a space that also needs to accommodate tall images (and vice versa). Just make sure that all your images share one consistent aspect ratio like 1:1 or 4:3.

Three product photos with the same aspect ratio

These product photos all have the same 1:1 aspect ratio, making the photos easy to accommodate in a dynamic remarketing ad template.

BONUS: If all of your product images are also the exact same pixel dimensions (e.g., 300px x 300px), you'll probably get better-looking ads, since the images can be processed, resized, optimized, and cropped with 100% consistency.

2. Use a single background color

White is a good bet, but the background color you use really doesn't make a difference as long as it's consistent. A designer needs to select a good background color for your ads, and proper color selection is next to impossible when all the product photos have different background colors.

3. Be consistent with bleed

When some product photos appear alone against a stark white background, while other products appear within background "scenes," it's difficult for a designer to create an ad that will blend well with either case. Inconsistent bleeds will result in a lowest-common-denominator design without much character.

On the other hand, consistent bleeds allow a designer to create compelling layouts that will work across an entire product catalog.

Note how the full bleed (image content goes all the way to all 4 edges of the photos) allows the designer to create a minimalist, elegant tiled layout without the use of added borders.

4. Pay attention to the level of photo detail

If you're expecting to showcase the beautiful weave of a houndstooth scarf in a 728x90 ad unit, prepare to be disappointed. Remember that a photo can only be downsized so much before its key details become invisible. Zoom in on detailed products, don’t show lots of little products in a product photo, or run ad units that can properly accommodate and showcase your products.

Prospects are able to see the houndstooth pattern in this scarf because the 300x250 ad unit actually allows enough space for the photo to be enlarged.

The 728x90 ad unit forces the scarf's pattern to be scaled down to the point that it can't really be seen any more.

5. Minimize negative space

The best product photos make efficient use of the available image area. If you've got a 500x500 pixel image area, and your handbag product photo only takes up 200x200 pixels in the center, you've got an awful lot of empty space that will cause the product to look disproportionately small in your ads.

The product photo on the left makes excellent use of the available area, whereas the photo on the right has a composition that leaves too much empty white space and makes the product hard to see.

Contact us to learn more about the Canned Banners Dynamic Ads platform.