Video Ads vs. Image Ads: A Multi-Platform Comparison

Marketers today are well aware of the need to advertise their products and services online to attract and engage a wide audience. This became undeniable in 2017 when digital ad spending beat that of TV.

So, in general, the top advertising platforms considered nowadays are Google, Facebook, and Instagram.

To take advantage of these platforms for your marketing, you first need to figure out the format of the ads you’ll run. Will you go with image ads or video ads?

The answer to this will depend on the platform and your goals.

Now, video is reigning supreme in the online world. Cisco reported that the total Internet video traffic (business and consumer) will make up 80% of all Internet traffic in 2021, up from 67% in 2016.

This still doesn’t undermine the effectiveness of image ads. So to decide which format will work best for you, you’ll need to consider each platform separately.

Let’s compare how video ads and image ads perform on Google, Facebook, and Instagram.


Video ads vs. image ads: which perform better on Google?

Google offers digital marketers a ton of opportunities to build awareness, drive engagement, and increase conversions.

The Google Display Network lets you reach your target audience with targeted Display ads that people may come across when they’re browsing certain websites, watching a YouTube video, using an app on their phone, or checking Gmail.

When it comes to the ad format, you’ll have to select it based on your campaign type (Search Network only, Display Network only, Search Network with Display Select) and campaign sub-type (for example, Standard or All features).

Here are all the ad formats:

  • Text
  • Responsive
  • Image
  • Video
  • App promotion
  • Product shopping
  • Call-only

So, when it comes to image and video, which works better?

Turns out, the answer to that isn’t so straightforward.

First, let’s talk about what counts as an ‘image ad’ on Google.

Image ads on the platform include static or interactive graphics and 30-second animated ads in .gif and Flash format. These GIFs may loop.

These types of Google ads work great if your goal is to increase awareness or drive engagement.

But if your goal is boosting conversion, then interactive shoppable video ads may get you better click-through rates than those of display ads.


TrueView for shopping campaigns

TrueView by Google lets you make video ads interactive and can direct viewers to products easily. This is great for shopping campaigns.

To set up a TrueView ad, you’ll have to link your Google Ads account to your Google Merchant Center account.


trueview shoppable ads


The interactive element comes in here via cards. Your ad will use product data from the Merchant Center to generate cards. Up to 6 can appear at a time.

These types of ads can help speed up product purchases or app downloads.

So if your goal is to increase recall and conversion, then running video ads, particularly the interactive ones, through Google could be promising.

Another consideration is mobile. If you want to create ads that will perform well with smartphone users, then video could be a solid bet.

In fact, most marketers are already aware of the power of mobile, and this is what the digital video ad spend will look like in the coming years according to Statista:


statista - digital video ad spend


Pretty cool, right?

Let’s move on to the next benefit of running Google video ads: the possibility of customization.


Video ad creative customization

Quintillions of bytes of data are created every day. FYI, quintillion has eighteen zeros in it!

Now, if you want to stand out in this unfathomable arena and attract an audience, then you’re going to have to get a little creative.

Tailored messages packaged as stories are what will help you reach the right people.

With video, you have plenty of room for customization. But how do you do it right? Here’s what Think with Google recommends based on an experiment:


thinkwithgoogle-video customization

Credits: Think with Google


  • For short-form 6-second video ads, custom copy alone is enough to drive higher recall.
  • For longer 15-second video ads, more customization may be required.
  • Video ad customization may be effective if you’re trying to reach an audience based on an event that’s going to take place at a particular point in time.

Pro tip: Similar to how Google tested their ads, you can optimize your marketing videos through A/B testing, too.

With all of the above, it’s clear that running video ads through Google has its benefits.

With that said, the data shows that search and image ads get great results and are more popular amongst those who use the platform for marketing. So, this round goes to image ads.


Statista - Online ad by format


Video ads vs. Image ads: which is the best choice for Facebook?

As of 2021, Facebook clocked in 2.89 billion active users. It’s numbers like these that make the platform attractive for marketers.

Things may end up changing soon, though, since we’re already seeing how iOS privacy changes are hurting Facebook’s ad business.

Regardless, Facebook is a good bet for marketing your business.

So, what’s the verdict of image vs. video ads on this platform?

Let’s dissect.

First off, there is strong evidence that indicates Facebook’s preference to videos.

In 2017, Zukerberg acknowledged that ‘video is a mega trend’.

You can see this reflected in features like Facebook Watch, Watch Party, Facebook Live, and Facebook Stories that allow users to upload short videos.
The platform’s algorithm is also set to push better quality, original content in the feed.

Video is getting pushed harder because it keeps people engaged for longer. In fact, according to Databox, 60% of marketers surveyed said that compared to images, video tends to drive more engagement.

Here are some more interesting insights:


A 3% lower CPC

According to a test conducted by HubSpot, their narrative video yielded more favorable results compared to a static image. It had the most number of clicks and a 3 percent lower CPC.


An increase of conversions by 20-30%

Chantelle Stevenson, a marketer at ClearPivot, shared her experience with video ads in this Databox article. She raved about how video ads resulted in 20-30% more conversions when compared to static image ads on Facebook.

In conclusion, video content is better for Facebook ads because the content generates more engagement.

Read more: Maximizing the Performance of Facebook Video Ads


Which one is more suitable for Instagram?

In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. The app has a completely different vibe from Facebook. It’s all about the visuals! But if you want to publish ads on it, you have to visit the Facebook advertisement section.

Much like Facebook though, Instagram is also leaning more toward video. This is evident from the video features that have rolled out over the years. Here’s a quick timeline:

2013 – Video sharing is launched

2015 – Instagram allows 30-second ads for all advertisers – twice the previous limit.

2015 – Boomerang is launched – which is a one-second burst of 5 photos that plays as a video on loop

2016 – Stories is launched

2016 – Instagram Live makes its debut

2018 – IGTV is launched

2020 – Reels is launched

2021 – Instagram Live Rooms drops

The array of video features on Instagram makes sense because the medium has proved to be a popular and versatile one for content consumption.

Now, when it comes to types of video ads you can run on the platform, you have several options: carousel ads (these include photos or videos); in-feed video ads (which include a 3- to 60-second video or GIF); and Instagram Stories video ads where you can upload 15-second videos.

So, are video ads more effective compared to image ads on Instagram?

Well, from what we gathered, the answer is yes!

The fact is that video posts get 38% more engagement than images. And according to the previously mentioned Databox article, video ads get 3 times more engagement compared to sponsored image posts.

That brings our total to:

Image ads: 1

Video ads: 2

Final verdict: video ads win!

Related: How to Get More Instagram Video Views


Why video trumps images

From everything we’ve discussed so far, video ads emerge as the most favorable ad format. But let’s dig a little deeper and look at why videos, in general, fare better compared to static images.


Video ads help build brands

With video, you can create interesting narratives that fit your brand. There’s ample opportunity for storytelling and engaging the audience with compelling visuals.



Videos can convey more information than images

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.”

Through a video ad, you can give potential customers answers to the things they’ll want to know. This could include product uses, prices, offers, discounts, and more.

Moreover, think about the amount of information you can fit inside a tiny image ad, and then compare it with a whole 30- to 60-second video that would inform the audience about all those things and break it down for them.

WHO’s video fundraiser shows how the organization is uniting across borders to speed up the development of tests, treatments, and a vaccine for COVID-19 while continuing their work to promote health and serve the vulnerable.



Compare this with the image ad of WHO Philippines, and you can tell which one is more elaborate.

who image


Video ads set you apart from your competitors

It’s a competitive world out there and having a video marketing strategy can help you stand out in a saturated marketplace.

Also, since video ads take more time to create, many marketers go with a low-effort approach and stick to plain old image ads. By investing in video, you will automatically set yourself apart from others in the industry.


Wrapping it up

If you consider Facebook and Instagram, then video ads are statistically more effective. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with image ads.

The point is to diversify your content and find ways to take advantage of different formats.

And do consider your goals, your budget, your audience, and the platform before you start experimenting with video ads. Also, don’t fret if you’ve never tried creating video content. You don’t have to go big at the very beginning.

You could try out something as simples as stitching together a video by compiling static images. Run it on social and see how it performs!

But if you’re more ambitious and would like to create top-notch video content, there are lots of agencies that can help you produce something truly exciting.

Our team would be happy to help, too!

Want a video for your business?


Have fun creating and experimenting!

Posted by MotionCue

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