When it comes to really capturing your audience’s attention, nothing will do it quite like visuals. Humans are visual creatures, and we naturally respond to images. In fact, the human brain is designed to process visuals 60,000 faster than text, and it makes sense: we were seeing things long before we learned to write about them.

However, in this fast-paced, online world we are literally bombarded by visual stuff: movies, TV shows, commercials, memes, pictures from friends and family, video games… all these things we see and most of it is material we actually choose to look at.

The effect for marketing is that people really have a lot more choice about what they consume, and that means that potential consumers can easily ignore anything that doesn’t immediately capture their attention.

Then the question becomes how to best capture attention. We already know that it needs to be something visual, but which option is better: photo or video?

Visual Content Marketing: Photo vs Video


  • Better for clicks
  • Faster consumption
  • Less expensive


  • Better for engagement
  • Increases retention
  • Improves SEO
  • Engages multiple senses
Visual Content Marketing: Photo vs Video

When there were only three television stations, you could run a commercial and your message would be delivered to quite a lot of people. Now, there are infinite options, and knowing your audience, and pairing your visual content to match it makes an enormous difference.


Better for Clicks

Better for clicks

While it might sound a little counterintuitive, images tend to do better for clicks. Images are more likely to influence 25% of people to click through (second only to promotions), and videos rank third with only 16% of people being influenced to click through.

The reasons for this is likely to due to the clear call to action a well-placed image will have. The impact can be immediate and compelling. Of course, getting those clicks means having a really stunning image to stop someone from scrolling, so you can’t throw a stock image in there and think it will perform at the top level.

Use an image that your audience will immediately like, and that will win you a few seconds you need to deliver your call to action.

Faster consumption

Faster consumption

It’s a speedy-speed-speed world out there, and as a marketer, you have very little time to stop someone’s thumb from zipping by your ad. When someone is scrolling their feed, they will decide within 3 seconds if they are interested enough to click your photo ad. But, with video, it takes longer before they make that decision.

Obviously, you have about the same time to get someone to stop and pay attention to your video as you do with an image. However, with a video, it needs to remain compelling to get them to watch longer.

Usually, your call to action in a video doesn’t happen immediately, so there generally isn’t a push for a click right off the bat. Images are the opposite of that: your photo ad will (if you do it right) deliver the CTA which triggers a decision very quickly.

Less expensive

Less expensive

Let’s face it: video is usually much more time-consuming and resource-intensive than photos. Even photos taken at a professional level, with high-end equipment, studio lighting, models, and hair-and-makeup artists, it’s still faster to capture and edit a picture. Part of the reason is that a professional will already know how to light an environment to get the best raw images and be familiar with the editing process. The result is great images with minimal time in post-production.

Whilst videos can be better for driving clicks and engagement they are often more labor-intensive to create, taking a long time to craft into something usable and requiring a fairly high level of investment.

Christopher Fear

Creating visual content when time is of the essence, or there really isn’t a budget for video, makes photo ads more appealing.

The fantastic thing is that with the right tech and knowledge, creating great video is getting faster and easier, and there are a few marketing agencies (ahem) that can create a spectacular original video ad in just a couple of days, without an enormous cost.


Better for engagement

Better for engagement

Videos have the opportunity to elicit more emotions than static images, so it’s no wonder that videos get 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.

So, if your marketing campaign’s objective is engagement, a video is more likely to get you to your goal. And, as I keep saying, the content still needs to be carefully matched to the intended audience. Using a sloppy video creative for an ad will definitely not get the engagement you want.

You are also still contending with the extremely short timeframe to capture a consumer’s attention, and then you are faced with the need to continue to keep that attention. If you’re video takes too long to get to the point, you’ll lose your viewers before they take any action.

Increases site retention

Increases retention

Video, no matter how short, requires time to play out. Thus, someone visiting your site will tend to linger longer to watch a video, especially one that they find interesting. Site visitors will spend 88% more time on a website when it has a video.

And the longer you have the attention of a viewer, the increased chances for an action, whether that’s making a purchase or contacting you. Longer time spent watching a video likely means your content is resonating with them, and your message is going to be remembered.

Improves SEO

Improves SEO

Speaking of site lingering, the longer someone views your site, the better for your search engine optimization. To an algorithm, someone spending time on your site indicates that the site has value, and there is a good reason to push that site higher in search results.

But, that’s not the only way video boosts SEO results. Businesses that use videos on their sites have 41% more web traffic from searches than sites that don’t use video at all.

Videos give the opportunity for more meta content, titles, and descriptions, which in turn help inform search engines about the relevance of a site to someone’s search.

So, not only does video content help people find your site, the video also keeps them around longer and pushes them toward the action you want them to take.

Engages multiple senses

Engages multiple senses

Humans are hardwired for sound and movement. It’s a visceral instinct to pay attention when something in our environment makes an unexpected movement or noise.

Therefore, it’s easy to see why a video would be attention-grabbing.

However, as we are all inundated with video on our social media platforms, and those videos start playing silently until we click on them to turn the sound on, it can be more of a challenge these days to spark an immediate reaction.

That’s where the content of the video becomes more important than ever. The visuals you present to a potential consumer need to be nothing less than stunning. That is, stunning to your target audience. Understanding your ideal client and what makes them tick will give you insight into how to craft a video that piques curiosity and draws them in to learn more.

Video Ad bonus feature:

The other neat thing about video ads is that you can see how long people are watching the video, and then design a retargeting campaign based on how much they watched.

If it was just a few seconds, you know that you weren’t doing enough to whet their appetite. If they watched all the way through but didn’t take action, you know they were genuinely interested, but the offer wasn’t compelling enough.

That’s data that makes your follow up actions much, much more effective.

Visual Content Marketing: Photo vs Video

Regrettably, there isn’t a super-clear answer on which is better. Every situation is different, and varies depending on what your goals are, and who your audience is.

Between video vs image ads, it definitely depends on the product/service you are promoting.

Afshan Santi, SL Development

As with all marketing, it’s experimentation. Trying something and looking at the results without judging yourself is a priceless skill. Doing A/B tests is a must-do for the beginning of any campaign, and you can put a video ad up against an image ad and see which does better.

It can take hours to create a video ad, not including testing any different variations. What do I recommend? Test and find a winning image ad–test the copy, CTA, etc.–then turn it into video and see how it performs.

Daniel Daines-Hutt, AmpMyContent

Ultimately, your visuals will be the best thing to capture attention, but you still need to ensure that you are communicating with your target clients clearly. Whether you communicate that to them with a single picture or 30 pictures a second, you need to know them and speak to their needs and desires.

Have you found video or images to be the top performer for your marketing? Tell us!

GoBig Creative is a visual-first marketing agency based in Utah. We are crazy about killer video ad creatives, branding, small businesses, digital marketing strategy, social media marketing, and helping brands grow and scale.

INFOGRAPHIC Visual Content Marketing: Photo vs Video