Have you noticed that more ads today don’t look like ads at all? Instead, they look like they were shot by regular people on a smartphone!

  • For example: Taco Bell recently created a TV ad which was made entirely of photos pulled from Instagram.

  • Also, Google promoted their new high-speed Internet, with an ad featuring mostly footage shot on smartphones.

  • And designer Rebecca Minkoff did a whole shoe campaign shot with Instagram photos - shot from the perspective of someone looking down at their own shoes. She called it “Shoe-tography," and says she got the idea after she posted a picture of the shoes she was wearing on Instagram, and sales spiked.

Why are so many marketers ditching slick-looking ad campaigns, in favor of ads that you and I could have whipped up in a few minutes? Experts say “organic-looking” ads connect more with people, because they’re more realistic. It’s the same reason more ads are using real people instead of models. We want to see ourselves in the ad. 

Plus, organic ads are more likely to be shared online.

And when someone shares a picture, it doesn’t cost the company anything, but their ad gets more exposure and sales go up.

In fact, as an experiment, Barneys New York recently posted two photos of a popular nail polish brand online. One was a traditional product shot, like something you’d see in a magazine, and the other photo was snapped from an iPhone, showing a close-up of a woman’s fingernails. The iPhone photo got 8 times more hits than the pro photo and sales spiked as a result. 

It works because, these days, we don’t want to feel like we’re being “sold to” all the time. So, the more an ad looks like something your friend would post on Instagram or Pinterest, the more effective it is.