Social Media Marketing

How to Use Stock Photos Effectively in Your Ads (7 Must-Know Tips)

How to Use Stock Photos Effectively in Your Ads (7 Must-Know Tips)

Stock photos, hands down, are the easiest and fastest way to make your ads look more professional. They allow you to increase your brand awareness and help you express yourself better, and help boost a company’s credibility. 

But when it comes to using stock photos, you must be careful and can’t just use any image without careful consideration.

Before going ahead:

Here are some best content-sharing websites that might be quite interesting for you.

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Now, let’s stick with the topic.

You see, stock photos are enormous in the ads industry, but you need to understand their guidelines to avoid problems in the future. This article will enlighten you on how to use stock photos effectively and which ones to pick for your ads.

But first, let’s learn more about stock photos. 

What Exactly are Stock Photos?

A stock photo is any visual media such as photography, vector illustration, or even a video. These images are available in databases of stock photo agencies. 

These high-quality visuals can be downloaded within seconds to use for your ads and other purposes. They are available under different licenses that the user can purchase for a fee. 

Why is it Essential to Use Stock Photos?

Stock images, if used correctly, increase the quality of your ads and lead to more conversions. They also allow marketers to keep their branding consistent. High-quality photos help because they offer businesses a chance to illustrate their story to the audience in a professional manner.

With these photos, your audience can imagine themselves in the shoes of the models and see themselves benefitting from whatever you’re offering. 

For instance, check out this screenshot from Forex Trading:

Why is it Essential to Use Stock Photos?

As you can observe, the ad shows a lady with a big smile, holding a bunch of cash in her hands. This stock photo perfectly represents what the brand wants to portray to its clients, who’re looking to earn a decent profit. 

However, you need to follow a specific set of rules when using stock photos in your ads. Here are some to help you utilize them effectively.

1) Make Sure Stock Images are Relevant

The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more apt for online advertising. That’s where stock photo selection comes in.

When you have a relevant image to your audiences in your advertisement, they can better relate to it, and will naturally be inclined to learn further about the product or service on offer. 

It would be best if your photos are not only relevant but also complementary to the ad’s subject line and Call To Action.

For example, check out this screenshot from Fx Trading and Advisory Services:

 Make Sure Stock Images are Relevant

2) Match Your Stock Photos to Your Target Audience

Stock photos are helpful in getting the message across to potential clients, primarily depicting people. When you’re finding the perfect picture for your ad, it all comes down to your target audience.

Firstly, you need to look into your target market audience. If you are a law firm, for example, you would probably want a picture of someone serious and professional on your ad. 

For instance, check out this ad from Ghothane Lawyers:

Match Your Stock Photos to Your Target Audience

The image creates a serious appeal as it hints at trustworthiness and reliability, two qualities people value in a lawyer.

The models in your ads need to be relatable and attractive, just like you and me.

This will help your audience feel a connection with the person in the ad. After all, we’re more likely to click on ads that look like us!

3) Create an Emotional Appeal

The human brain naturally responds to images loaded with emotion. Emotions are essential for advertising, as they make people care about your product.

Use images tinged with humor, sadness, happiness, anger, surprise, or any other type related to your buyer’s persona.

In case you are selling a weight loss meal plan, using an image of a couple who seems fit and happy is better.

Because if people see someone who’s already fit, they’ll want to look like them too!

Check out this stock photo of a couple:

Create an Emotional Appeal

This picture is the perfect example of emotional appeal as they exude positive vibes. The couple in the photo smiles at each other, looking thin and fit. The ad invokes feelings weight loss may inspire.

4) Make Sure to Edit and Modify the Image

Stock photos are all over the internet, so users tend to look at them with a grain of salt. Who wants to look at a stranger’s picture and get inspired by them? It’s just awkward.

The best stock photos are the ones that include individuals to whom the viewers can relate. Take the exact image of the couple, but this time without CTA, copy, and that much modification; will it grab your attention? I doubt that.

Modifying the stock photo makes them more relatable and approachable. It helps to match your business’s tone, style, and branding. Before using any stock photos, edit them to look organic and natural. 

Following are some tips that will help give your stock images a more natural feel:

Here are a few steps you can take to modify your stock photos:

  • Add Text
  • Change the background
  • Add your logo
  • Add custom visuals
  • Crop the image to match your ads

5) Always Pay Attention to the License Agreement

Easier said than done, right? Unfortunately, many businesses don’t pay attention to the license agreement with the stock photos. They upload the image and use it without worrying about the consequences.

Even before searching for any photos, always carefully read their license agreement. There are three commonly used types of licenses.


This license means you can use the image only the number of times you paid for it. You need to get the license if you want to use the image more than once. There may be additional restrictions on you can and cannot use these images. 


This means you can use an image as often as your business needs. Only one payment is needed. This license is great for those who want to use the same image in all their advertisements.

Public Domain:

This license means the rights to the image belong to you. It is free for everyone to use and modify. This is mostly used for personal projects.

Always read the license agreement before buying or downloading any stock photos, especially if you’re working on a tight budget!

Which license is best for business?

It depends on how often you require stock photos for your ads. If you are an agency that requires stock photos more often, go for a royalty-free license. However, if you use them once in a while, you can go for the rights-managed licenses.

6) Don’t Get Sued!

It’s great that you’re using stock photos, but sometimes it can go too far. It is essential to be careful when choosing a stock photo, as using a copyrighted image can result in a lawsuit.

For instance, this postal service was sued for using copyrighted photos. They are paying $3.5 million as a settlement. This mistake could have been prevented with some attention to detail.

So, instead of taking random photos from Google and using them in your ads, spend a little money to avoid any legal complications. You can always invest a few bucks to purchase stock photos that are legal and reliable.

It will be worth the money spent in the end, as it will help your business save time and money in legal fees, but you will also be able to make better ads.

7) Test, Test, Test!

Extensive testing is a must when you are using images in your ads. Every business has different goals and objectives, so it is hard to determine which image performs best.

Trust your gut, but always test out stock photos before finalizing the best one through focus groups. Photos that suit one business might not work for another.

The quickest way to get started is to test 3-5 different images to see which one performs best.

If you run 3 or 4 ads with multiple stock photos, the best-performing image will become obvious after a couple of days.

Always analyze the results to see which image is more effective in increasing sales or click-through rates. 

When you have the data, you can now invest more time and money in better-performing images. 

Once you know which type of photos are your winners, stick with them. You can use similar images in your next ad, getting better results than ever!


To conclude, stock photos are an excellent way to elevate your ads. There are many benefits of using stock images, like saving time and money, and it’s easy to see how it can improve your ad results.

However, it’s essential to consider the various factors before utilizing them in your ads. Always read terms of use and license agreements. Make sure you give yourself enough time to research and test everything that will go into the ad.

You can use a variety of stock photos for your ads. But remember, not all of them work well together, so test, test, and test!

The time and efforts you invest will pay off, as you will create high-quality and compelling ads that will bring greater clientele and revenue to your business.

Imran Chandio

The author Imran Chandio

A Passionate Blogger, Digital Marketing Expert, Founder, and CEO@ TheFanmanShow.Com, ihaveiPhone.Com & CforCreditCard.Com.

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