It’s hard to find a real estate coach or creator who doesn’t praise the virtues of creating more video content (myself included!). 

While videos are often encouraged for their storytelling capability and ability to engage viewers, I dove into the data to see what truly works best for real estate ads on Facebook and Instagram.

The Experiment

I tested five different ad types each with a weekly budget of $75, aiming to uncover which format yields the most effective results in terms of clicks and engagement. I ran them through Meta’s Ad Manager with an “Awareness” objective for a more organic reach. I avoided the “Traffic” objective, which often attracts click-happy Facebook and Instagram users. 

Each ad featured the same property, with the same budget, over the same timeframe (one week), and with identical spending. I experimented with the following ad types:

Single Exterior Shot:

Single Exterior Photo

Instant Experience with Photos (Collections):

Instant Experience with Photos

Carousel:

Carousel

Video:

Video

Instant Experience with Video (Collections):

Instant Experience with Video

The Results

Photos vs Video: Ad Clicks

Surprise, surprise! 

Photos didn’t just beat video…it was a blowout. My educated guess is video provides too much too soon. A video shows the city, the inside of the home, and all the selling points. Therefore, there is less reason to click the ad and see the remaining interior photos. 

A single exterior photo shows just a glimpse of the property. Consider making it extra appealing with a twilight photo, and more people are likely to click on it to see more of the property. 

Long-Term Cost Implications

Let’s say you spent an average of $75 a week, a total expense of $3,900 a year. The “Single Exterior Shot” would receive 3,224 clicks annually, outperforming the “Instant Experience with Video (Collections)”, with only 1,664 clicks. 

This stark difference revealed that photos, particularly single exterior shots, significantly outpace videos in driving clicks by 144%.

What This Means for You

For real estate agents aiming to generate leads, these findings are invaluable. While videos are great for YouTube ads (stay tuned in the coming weeks) and social media engagement, photos, particularly single exterior shots, prove to be the most effective for attracting clicks (leads) from potential buyers.

The numbers speak for themselves. By opting for photos over videos, you can nearly double your click-through rate, making the most of your advertising budget and driving more leads.

Is Video Dead for Advertising?

Not at all. But if your goal is simply lead generation, I would advise avoiding video (unless you’re advertising on YouTube). 

Photos vs. Videos: Views

But if you’re running ads for your clients to get the maximum number of eyes on their property, video is still king. “Instant Experience with Video” out performs photos by 108%. 

One of our team’s unique selling propositions is we get every listing a minimum of 100,000 views. Going with photos alone would increase costs by 8%. Why? Because Facebook and Instagram have so many more placements to deliver video than they do photos. Think Reels, In-Stream Videos, and ads on Reels.

The Takeaway

This experiment highlights the nuanced approach needed in real estate advertising. Video is undeniably strong for its depth, personal brand awareness, and total views. Photos offer a more cost-effective solution for lead generation on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Final Thoughts

Real estate advertising is not one-size-fits-all. Depending on your goals—whether it’s maximizing clicks for lead generation or enhancing brand visibility—your strategy may vary. However, if your aim is to drive leads efficiently, think again before defaulting to video. The data suggests that photos, particularly single exterior shots, might just be the secret weapon you need in your marketing toolkit. Don’t use it as an excuse not to do video though. In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring exactly how to get the highest return on investment on your video marketing.