IQ News: Royalty-free Stock Photography Produces a Slew of Copycat Banners

Despite the steady decline of clickthrough rates, plain-vanilla banner ads continue to dominate the online advertising landscape. According to Web measurement and research firm AdRelevance, an average of 6,000 new banners are introduced each week.
In the past year, a number of banner ads featuring the same attractive, unnamed woman began appearing in ads hawking everything from network servers to diarrhea medicine. The model’s image came from royalty-free stock photography.
“This woman in particular we’ve seen so many times. It’s insane,” said Marc Ryan, director of media research at
AdRelevance. “And these aren’t even all of the ads, these are just the ones that we’ve come across.”
Ryan said that the relatively low cost and ease of using stock photos has enabled ad shops to churn out ad after ad, often with the same image.
In fact, this model has appeared in more than 17 million ad impressions since July. So what can advertisers do to curtail repetition and help their banners rise above the crowd of look-alike ads?
“The challenge for advertisers is to use royalty-free stock photography in a way that makes it as unique as possible,” cautioned Ryan.–Kipp Cheng