Why Mashvisor Ditched Glossy Stock Photos in Ads

Mashvisor found that stock photos tend to be less authentic than user-generated content

With the power of Scopio’s visual marketing tool behind them, Mashvisor was able to optimize their Facebook ads and get the results they needed for growth. These are their initial findings. To get Mashvisor’s in-depth ad report, drop us a line at info@scop.io! Let’s chat ad strategy.

Our friends at Mashvisor are seasoned tecchies, sharp thinkers and business-savvy leaders, so they put their talents to good use. With their help, real-estate investors turn what would be months of comprehensive research into 15 minutes of simple searching. Just type in a city you’re interested in, and Mashvisor will churn out a comprehensive overview of investment opportunities there. You’re able to analyze any city of interest — even if you’re not an expert on the location — view average cash returns and analytics on traditional or Airbnb properties, find the neighborhoods that best suit your interests and view the number of properties the city has to offer. As a result, folks can save hours of valuable time, and absolutely no stone is left unturned in the search for a great investment property.

But what’s a product without advertising? To boost their brand, Mashvisor is also active on social media, often publishing Facebook ad campaigns to reach potential clients. So when Mashvisor CEO and Co-Founder Peter Abualzolof learned about the power of user-generated content and Scopio, he also discovered a way to create even more engagement on those paid ads.

To test this, Peter launched two different Facebook ad campaigns. The key variable? One ad set featured traditional stock photos from Shutterstock, and the other included user-generated images from Scopio — photos from everyday people on Twitter and Instagram.

Mashvisor spent nearly the same amount on each Facebook advertisement, with just 2 cents more going to their Scopio campaign. The daily maximum was $10, and both campaigns were initiated on the same day.

Just three weeks after the campaign’s launch, Peter was pretty surprised at his test results. As it turned out, a mere 21 days of great UGC could significantly improve metrics on Mashvisor’s ad campaigns and rope in even more potential partners. Here’s what he found.


Clicks Galore

21 days after the campaigns launched, the Shutterstock version of the ad had 36 clicks. The UGC version had 62 — a 58% increase. “The assumption is correct,” Peter says of UGC. “The photos from Scopio were actually a lot more engaging than your run-of-the-mill stock photo.”

This result isn’t exactly miraculous. In marketing and advertising circles, UGC has proven time and time again to be more reliable, effective and engaging than traditional stock photos, which lack the authenticity that modern audiences crave. UGC marketing is now a mainstay.

“The best generic images get overused by everyone,” Medium’s Ryan McCready writes, giving a nod to a popular stock photo he’s seen on multiple websites. “I would think that the writer or creator does not care about making their work original. So why should I read it?”

He suggests UGC as an alternative, because there’s an original, distinctly human element to it. And in Mashvisor’s case, outside-the-box UGC really distinguishes them from the pack.

Imagine that two Mashvisor ads pop up in your own Facebook feed. One features a stock photo of a suburban property, while the other shows a man paddleboarding off the coast of his Italian summer home. Which type of photo appeals to you more? And most importantly, which photo tells a story?



Mashvisor found that stock photos tend to be less authentic than user-generated content.
Scopio’s submissions come from all over the world, including this one from Capo Gallo, Sicily. Photo by @boardside/Instagram.


A Lower Cost Per Click

UGC isn’t just more clickable. In this case, it’s also a lot cheaper. Because there were more clicks on the Facebook campaign stocked with UGC, Mashvisor’s cost per click was considerably lower for user-generated images ($1.46) than ones from Shutterstock ($2.51).

UGC’s affordability doesn’t stop at costs per click, though. Regular customers — and not just the Kylie Jenners or Amber Roses of the world — can work as brand ambassadors, and it’s easier and cheaper to gather many pieces of UGC than to produce in-house.

You’ll widen your network, too. “With user-generated content, your customers are creating the assets for you, and bringing in their own audiences as a result,” writes Blaise Lucey of Sprinklr.

This isn’t to say that there’s no place for art directors, graphic designers, photographers and artists — those folks make the world incredibly beautiful. It’s that UGC is a great way to supplement all kinds of content. After all, the most seasoned marketers understand that success comes when you balance your strategy between in-house creations and UGC. Because why not tout brand identity and tell your fans that they matter?


A Lower Cost Per 1,000 Impressions

It’s no Google AdWords, but advertising on Facebook is also rife with campaign choices. One of the most important ones is whether you’d like your ad to run via cost per click or cost per 1,000 impressions.

Since Mashvisor saw a lower cost-per-click rate with Scopio’s photos, it’s only logical that cost per 1,000 impressions would be lower as well. Photos from Scopio cost $12.61 for each group of impressions, and the campaign with Shutterstock stock photos put Mashvisor back by $13.15.

Sure, this doesn’t seem like much — until you consider what kind of company you are. If you’re a larger corporation with ads that garner hundreds of thousands of impressions, this will save you a lot of cold, hard cash in the long run.

“As Mashvisor grows, we’re always looking for ways to maximize these campaigns,” Peter says. “And if we can extend our reach and save some money at the same time, it’ll benefit us in larger campaigns in the future.”


And By Default, Mashvisor Got More Impressions

According to Facebook’s business blog, “impressions are the number of times a post from your page is displayed,” and one person can make multiple impressions. Mashvisor’s Facebook campaign gathered 300 more impressions when they published user-generated images from their Scopio dashboard, all for the same price as a campaign stuffed with stock photos.

It’s definitely worth it — even if just one person reaches out to your brand.



Mashvisor found that stock photos tend to be less authentic than user-generated content
UGC doesn’t just represent beautiful visuals. It also shares a memory or experience. Photo by Jonathan Mendoza/Scopio submission.


The Revolution Will Be User-Generated

Experts agree that stock photos have seen their heyday. In time, authenticity and more personalized branding strategies will take center stage. Your traditional stock photo doesn’t build an authentic brand identity. Instead, it stops people from connecting with your company, no matter how great it might be.

Don’t lose hope, though. UGC in marketing is an incredibly easy way to boost your campaigns. Mashable also notes that “personalized images improve content performance by increasing likes, shares, and click through rates.”

If you’re a forward-thinking marketer, you might worry about legal issues. UGC currently is a legal grey area, and there are a lot of reposts to sift through on social media. Additionally, there’s no way to combine hashtags and search them — making your marketing quest even more difficult.

Scopio alleviates these pain points. Partners enter the hashtags, keywords, @usernames or a geolocation that are relevant to them to create customized campaigns. Scopio then uses the power of machine learning to cut out all the junk from these search terms, and clients get a clean feed of content. And when they ask permission to use brilliant photos or videos straight from the Scopio dashboard, they’re also creating connections.

“It’s surprisingly easy,” Peter adds. “Social media photos have gone untapped so long, and they’re a great solution for getting people involved with your brand, even if you’re dealing with something like real-estate investment.” He plans to use Scopio for ad campaigns in the future, and has since added more cash to his Scopio campaign.

“I saw it was performing well,” Peter says. “So I thought: Why not?”

Scopio is the industry’s premier search and licensing platform for images and videos on social media. We help companies find and use the photos and videos that matter to their audience, from capturing content to evaluating the performance of their new campaigns. Wondering about what we can do for you?  Just email info@scop.io for more information. We’d love to field your questions. Featured photo by eledeluis_/Instagram.

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