Study Claims Instagram-Style Images Perform Better Than Polished Studio Photos

May 30, 2014

Instagram photos versus professional photos

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Marketers and business owners who use polished, professional studio photos for online ads need to reconsider their strategy. Because according to an analysis by the social media agency, Laundry Service, less refined photos that were “Instagram-style” received as much as an 8 percent higher click-through rate when compared to regular photos, which received a click-through rate of 2.35 percent. The agency also found that conversion rates experienced a 25 percent increase as a result of using “organic Instagram-style photos” in campaigns.

Ad Age reports that over a six month time frame, Laundry Service measured the performance of its campaigns using “organic” Instagram-style photos — defined as a non-glossy pictures shot outside of a studio — and found that they performed far better than their traditional-looking counterparts. “We always liked organic content better,” said Laundry Service founder and president Jason Stein. “We noticed it was doing a lot better so we started recommending it more and more to our clients.”

Photos taken using professional cameras on Instagram

The data was drawn from over 100 million impressions, according to Mr. Stein, spanning campaigns from more than 15 advertisers. “It’s not an opinion,” Mr. Stein said. “This is what was working best.”

Laundry Service has now started an Instagram division under Liz Eswein, whose @newyorkcity handle is followed by 1.2 million people on the platform. The agency plans to further build out the network of Instagram photographers cultivated by Ms. Eswein, and will rely on them to shoot photos and videos for advertisers.

Savvy marketers interested in developing the most effective campaigns to increase brand engagement will undoubtedly consider these findings and use images with an Instagram format.




According to an article from The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, a Forrester study that examined how frequently people engaged with branded social content revealed that “brand ads posted on Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.”

Professional photos perform less than Instagram photos

Ad Age pointed out that Ian Schafer, CEO of digital agency Deep Focus, said Instagram photos can, at times, work better than standard ad creative, but not always. “I wouldn’t fire all of my photographers and just source photos from Instagram,” he said. “Sometimes you want beautiful, food-porny product shots and you’re just not going to get that from Instagram.”

AdSoft Direct notes the best choice for campaign images will depend on the specific campaign and what the target audience wants to see the most. “Considering factors like image aesthetics and which social media channel is best suited to a brand will help marketers create higher-performing marketing campaigns.”

And Ad Age reminds readers that there’s always the chance the “authentic” Instagram aesthetic loses popularity, particularly as consumers see it enlisted more often in advertising.

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