photokina: 26.–29.09.2018 08.–11.05.2019

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Images have impact: in digital marketing, visual elements ensure a wider reach and more attention. How those responsible find the right photos and use them for their own brand presence.

The struggle for attention is becoming increasingly diverse and intense: in addition to the conventional marketing channels, new digital communications possibilities are arising all the time – whether Facebook, Instagram or soon WhatsApp. Without the right visuals, most messages are ignored. Visual elements support marketing and can decisively characterise the image of a brand. Access to a multitude of original and fresh motifs has probably never been easier than today, but those responsible for marketing now have to apply new knowledge when searching for images in the web.

No end of choice

Image search and image rights

When the creative idea is set, but an own photo shoot should be dispensed with, the search for the visual needle in the haystack begins. Numerous databases in the web provide the starting point in the search for a suitable motif. Providers like iStocks from the Getty corporation advertise with millions of images from more than 160,000 creators, while Adobe has integrated images from the Fotolia service it took over three years ago into "Adobe Stock". These are supplemented by platforms not directly oriented toward commercial uses, such as Pixabay or Flickr. And not least, Google also offers a professional version of its image search – it also in some cases uncovers results from other databases. The advantage: marketing experts can directly limit the search to photos with consent for commercial use (Advanced image search from google).

Credits instead of cash

Caution is called for here: images may only be used by companies with the appropriate license. The large platforms offer standard contracts that legally regulate use. However, the people responsible for marketing can't dispense with looking at the conditions: some simple licenses are limited to a defined print edition. Sometimes use of the photos is only for a limited time. Others don't allow use in social networks because the photos are distributed further by many users. Helpful from a marketing perspective, but not always automatically allowed.

In most cases, however, of course involving extra fees, there are options that also enable the desired purpose. So-called credit is thus often used as a method of payment on the platform: for iStock, one credit can cost upwards of eight Euro, and decreases in price the more units the user trades at once. As an alternative to individual purchase with credits, many platforms offer subscription models, with which, depending upon the scope, a certain number of images per month are included. Adobe's affordable plan, for example, includes ten media for 30 Euro per month.

Clever keywords

Once the right images have been found, of central importance is clever use in the marketing mix. With a few simple tricks, photos on the homepage, for example, can also help the company to position itself better for search engines. Compact image sizes, sensible and descriptive file names and the appropriate selection of keywords for the so-called "alt tag" of the image files ensure that, for example, Google's algorithm can currently find the images easily, which can, however, change with every update of the search engine giant.

Related information:

Detailed overview of licenses and databases, (only german language) compiled by the Textbest agency.

How images can be cleverly used for one's own search engine optimisation is demonstrated by this guest contribution of the entrepreneur magazine Impulse. (only german language)