In July, Microsoft Advertising announced its new partnership with Shutterstock.

This partnership gives advertisers access to 330 million free images that they can use for their display campaigns on the Microsoft Audience Network.

The move should help advertisers by saving them time and resources in creating their advertisements. Using the Shutterstock API, they can select images and enter their copy within the Microsoft platform.

If you're using Google Ads, this guide is for you too, as this feature is also available for display campaigns. So we've gathered some key tips for choosing the best images using the Shutterstock APIs.

What is the Microsoft Audience Network?

The Shutterstock partnership currently only works for the Microsoft Audience Network, although it would make sense to roll out the API for searching for images in the years to come.

For those unfamiliar with the Microsoft Audience Network, it is a pool of websites that you can run display campaigns on. It consists of thousands of partner websites as well as Microsoft's own programs, including Skype, Outlook and LinkedIn.

You can find more information about the Microsoft Audience Network here.

So let's examine what makes a good image for your advertising campaign.

1. Make sure they are relevant

There's no point in grabbing your audience's attention for the wrong reasons.

Imagine that (if you'll excuse the pun). Someone browses their favorite blog and sees this eye-catching picture of someone eating delicious ice cream topped off with all the sprinkles and sauces you can imagine. You see this picture and wow it caught your attention. They want an ice cream so read it on your ad.

But your company is not an ice cream parlor. It's actually a nail salon. You may have thought that the person holding the ice cream had beautiful nails, but it's not what gets attention and attracts people. They came for ice cream and left disappointed.

2. Think emotionally

People buy with emotions and justify with logic.

Purchases are always emotion-oriented. They buy because they think it makes them happy, because they are afraid of what will happen if they don't buy, because they want to match their friends, etc. – there are many reasons.

To get the most from your ads, you should think about the emotions customers might have when purchasing your product. Then exaggerate them with your picture.

Let's say you sell baby clothes. There are many emotions associated with this purchase, including love and excitement about raising a child. So, you should choose photos that convey those emotions and create the perfect picture of a beautiful, healthy baby and a loving family.

3. Count expressions

Did you know that a smiling face can increase conversions?

Happiness is contagious. When we see someone smile, we want to smile. The pursuit of happiness is our basic instinct, and we are always drawn to it.

When you see someone smile in a photo, not only does it improve your mood, but you want to get involved too. If your product makes that person happy, it must make others happy too. A smile can act as a second hand testimonial for your product and give your users the confidence to click and convert.

However, be careful not to show a fake smile. There's nothing more repulsive than people staring at you with a fake Cheshire Cat grin – especially when they're wearing business attire.

There's a fine line between a natural smile and a scary smile. Do your best not to exceed this limit.

4. Colors also play a role

Certain colors can also help arouse emotions or feelings in users. For example, blue can have a calming effect on people, while red can show feelings of love or danger.

In addition, color can also create a tone for your display. Obviously, when opting for a warm color palette (like oranges, yellows, and reds), users think of warmer things like sunlight and heat for a more positive impression of your image. In contrast, cooler color palettes (like blue and green) can feel emotionally distant.

Natural palettes can also make your brand look more professional, while bright colors can make your business look childlike.

Ready, set, action

These tips seem like a lot of rules, but the main thing is to make sure the image you choose matches your campaign and the emotional response you are trying to create.

Once you know that, you can get started with the new API.

The Shutterstock API is currently available in the UK and US, but is expected to roll out in Canada, Australia and other countries later this year. If you use Google Ads, this feature is already available for display campaigns worldwide.
Are you looking for more ways to improve your Microsoft campaigns? Here's a look at some of the least-used Microsoft features and how you can use them to your advantage.

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