Bad Stock Art: How Photos May Hurt Engagement

We all know the importance of graphics and videos in generating clicks, engagement, and traffic. One study claimed a lift of as much as 650 percent for posts and ads including imagery, versus text-only marketing. But the types of graphics or stock art you use may be as important as the fact that you use them.

A new study by commerce experience platform Nosto reveals that user-generated content (UGC) is way more effective and inclusive than traditional stock art or photography/imagery that brands commission.

The study, which included fashion, home, garden, and beauty brands (which rely heavily on visuals), reinforces the struggles that many advertisers have when looking for diverse and inclusive art for campaigns.

According to Nosto’s press announcement that reveals their research results, 83% of e-commerce marketers say finding images and videos that support diversity across race, gender, age, size, and physical ability is a challenge.

Most (87%) would prefer to use real customer images (user-generated content) over handpicked models or influencers for showcasing diversity. They are twice as likely to choose user-generated content (UGC) over AI-generated visuals.

This chart, provided by Nosto, illustrates what types of artwork build trust.

At least one stock art company, PocStock, is addressing the diversity challenge with a broader selection of royalty-free images.

Another source, aptly called Death to Stock, promises a fresh range of imagery.

No matter where brands get their imagery, focusing on appealing to all segments of your market is critical. The Nosto study may indicate that today’s consumers are more focused on authenticity than ever before. The fact that influencer imagery scored lower than professionally shot media may indicate that the influencer bubble is bursting.

We recently covered a new type of business — Hummingbirds — that was built around using “real people” to facilitate word-of-mouth marketing. (You can meet the founder Emily Steele at Place 2023 on November 7th.)

Says Damien Mahoney, Chief Strategy Officer of Nosto,

“Many brands are now actively nurturing communities of their biggest customer advocates, giving them specific briefs for visual content for upcoming campaigns. While brands might hesitate to get customers too heavily involved in their marketing, leaning on a customer community like this can sometimes produce creative visual themes that might not occur to the brands themselves.”

So, as you develop your next brand campaign, you might want look to a combination of imagery (from new, diverse, and authentic sources) to tell your story.

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