After 5 years of its launch, Instagram, the photo and video sharing app owned by Facebook, has opened up its advertising opportunities to local and global businesses. By switching on its API, marketers and brands will for the first time be able to purchase ads without the need for contacting Instagram’s sales representatives. While previously Instagram’s advertising was limited to certain countries and required a serious budget of $50,000 minimum spend, this all is about to change.

From now on ads will be easy to access as the release of the API will allow marketers to schedule campaigns through third-party tools as well as track their effectiveness from the data that is generated.

Why has Instagram made a leap into ads?

Instagram’s ads are nothing new, they have been put to the test since 2013 by a very limited number of major brands such as Disney, Cadbury, Waitrose and The Gap. This extra time allowed the network to perfect its execution to please both brands and Instagram’s users whilst turning itself into a shopping and marketing destination.

As a repose to the growing demand to use Instagram more effectively, and to allow consumers asking ‘How do I buy this’ to take action, the app decided to take next step into the world of advertising.

To keep the balance right, Instagram introduced a strict policy in order to manage the volume and frequency of its ads aimed at helping marketers create customised commercial content without disrupting the user experience too much.

Why and how brands can use Instagram’s ads

Instagram, which last year took overtook Twitter in number of monthly active users, has according to Forrester’s analysis the highest engagement rate of 4.21%, delivering ‘58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter’.


You can just imagine how brands, who are struggling to generate engagement on Facebook and Twitter, can make content promotion more successful by merging Instagram’s activities with its new paid advertising availability with:

● TARGETING: Amongst the first brands to sign up to Instagram’s new advertising API is online retailer Net-a-Porter. The brand is using this advertising feature to target ads in real time to a very specific audience across Europe within 24 hours of their events. Marketers will be able to target consumers based on age, gender, demographic and most importantly, their interests.
● ACTION FORMATS: Adverts will be supported with buttons like ‘Learn more’, ‘Sign-up’, ‘Install now’ or ‘Show now’ allowing users to discover relevant and beneficial content outside of the app.

● INTERACTIVE FORMATS: Brands will be able to drive direct sales, app installs and engagement not just with photo ads but also with adverts including a carousel of several images or interactive video ad formats.

● DATA MANAGEMENT: The spend and ad management tools will help marketers to monitor and evaluate their advertising efficiency.

The commercial benefits of using Instagram ads can be very powerful especially for companies aiming to drive further brand awareness and engagement.

Those who create branded content and are not short of visual collateral can use paid promotion to help their messages stand out while making them more playful resources. Anyone who is looking to reach a young demographic or Millennials could certainly give these ads serious thought too.

Before you start investing in Instagram’s ads

As ads will appear in user’s streams, it’s important to make them feel as if they are part of a regular posting activity. More than ever before, keeping the balance right between organic and promoted updates will play a crucial role in helping brands avoid over spamming the audience with offer-based advertising.

To take the full advantage of this new marketing opportunity you need to consider a few elements and focus on making your adverts:
A) Relevant: Take full advantage of the targeting options available to deliver the right message to the correct audience.
B) Aesthetically pleasing: Instagram is all about beautiful imagery combined with storytelling. This is why Instagram aims to turn its advertising offering into a premium magazine-like solution. Keep this in mind when selecting content and imagery for your future ads.
C) Engagement enhancing: Respect Instagram’s user ecosystem where your brand is part of a broader conversation.

While the advertising news has been welcomed by us marketers, Instagram’s creative community has been left slightly worried about the future of their feed. It’s our responsibility to apply advertising solutions in the best possible way to ‘fit’ the vibe of Instagram’s creative essence and reassure the audience that branded advertising is just a way of helping consumers and brands connect together through paid content which makes the discovery process a much faster and easier experience.

What are your thoughts about Instagram ads? Is your business planning to use this advertising format?  Let me know in the comments below how are you planing to use it and what are you hoping to achieve.