Looking For Effective Ad Creative? Try an Instagram Photo

Agency Claims Instagram-Style Images Perform Better Than Studio and Stock

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Internet ads are often depressingly unengaging, but the rise of Instagram and its aesthetic may offer advertisers one solution.

That's because Instagram photos can make more effective advertising than studio shots and stock photos, at least according to analysis by social media agency Laundry Service.

An Instagram-esque photo in an ad on Facebook.
An Instagram-esque photo in an ad on Facebook.

Over the past six months, the company 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."

Here's what Laundry Service found: Using regular photos, the company saw a 2.35% click-through rate. With Instagram-style shots, that increased to as high as 8%. When tying ad performance to sales, Laundry Service saw conversion rates increase by 25%. 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."

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

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."

There's also always the chance that the "authentic" Instagram aesthetic loses popularity, particularly as consumers see it enlisted more often in advertising.

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