Thought leadership for video marketing

The Crutch of Stock Video and Photography and How It Hurts Brands and Sales Effectiveness.

October 1, 2023 6:10 am Published by


  • COVID-19 Accelerated The Trend

  • The Lack of Authenticity

  • The Technology Contradiction

  • The Tail Wagging The Dog

  • The Advantages of Original Video Content

COVID-19 Exacerbated The Trend

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached its zenith in 2020/21, it was a very challenging time. Companies everywhere had to adjust to doing things differently: From employees working remotely, to adapting to new software project management platforms, to the way videos were made. Companies started to rely more heavily on stock photography, graphics, and animation for their video needs instead of shooting live productions. At the time, this was wise. It was both a safe alternative to making videos as well as cost effective. But now, it’s time to examine all the videos out there relying on stock video and photography. When you do, you’ll discover this tactic might not be so cost-effective and, in fact, may not be the best representation of your company.

For the record, we at Hybrid Moon Video Ad Agency have used our fair share of stock video and photography. It is a cost effective go-to resource. It is a helpful supplement when a client has a tight deadline and budget. But as the old saying goes: “Everything in moderation.”

The Lack of Authenticity

When customers and prospects land on a company’s home page and see photographs of models striking poses in meeting rooms, laboratories, discussing things while one of them holds a tablet—the viewer instinctively knows it’s stock photography. The models are just too pretty. The smiles are too shiny. What’s worse, these images can and do show up on other sites around the world again and again. Social influencer Dave Gorman did a YouTube show about stock photography where he tracked the stock photo of one model that was used on a U.S. company’s website. But then, that same photo showed up in an article for The New York Daily News. Then, that photo showed up again in an eHarmony posting, as well as the website of a British cookie manufacturer. It then showed up again and on other websites in Iran, Croatia, and Russia. What does this say about a company’s authenticity? If people are a company’s best asset–and they are–why would a company use stock photography and video to substitute its most valuable asset? Maybe during the pandemic this made sense. But not today.

The Technology Contradiction

Then, there’s the technology aspect. Companies are anxious to showcase how their product, service, or manufacturing process is state of the art. They should talk about this. But, why use an old technology like stock video and photography to talk about your exclusive new technology? There’s a disconnect there.

Even stock photography companies acknowledge that “stock footage” has a negative connotation to it. When Coverr, a stock video resource, launched its new service, they admitted people want stock that doesn’t look like stock. They further said that designers were labeling stock footage as being “offensive” to brands. 

The Tail Wagging The Dog

Another problem with relying on stock video and photography is you’re telling your product, service, or branding story around the footage available. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Companies need the freedom to tell their stories strategically, authentically, originally, then shoot and photograph the content needed around that strategy. 

The Advantages of Original Video/Photo Content

  • There’s no stock footage or photo subscription fees.
  • Your storytelling isn’t confined to what’s available.
  • You have the opportunity to do something different from your competitors, and there’s a bevy of articles and stats that say: “Don’t do what your competitors are doing.”
  • You have a stronger opportunity to build an emotional bond between your company and your customers. For example, stock photography will never allow you to effectively tell the story of a day in the life of your customer and how your product benefits their life.
  • You have limitless options for content and distribution: on your home page, YouTube channel, Instagram/LinkedIn/Facebook posts, etc.
  • Your brand voice will be consistent in visual content.
  • You might save considerable time and money in editing.
  • Most importantly, audiences will recognize your content as authentic! 

The best way to use stock footage is as a supporting element to your original content. Emphasis on the word “support.” This could be especially true for shooting global locations, aerials, or high risk situations.

Hybrid Moon is the conduit to making authentic video and photographic content happen. We never say no to a challenge and will work seamlessly with your team to tell stories that are strategic, original, and effective. Create a world of your own assets with a frictionless, easy to work with team. Look to the moon