Instagram has officially announced the roll-out of its advertising platform, offering advertisers more control, more targeting options, and the opportunity to launch direct response campaigns seamlessly within the platform.
When Facebook announced its acquisition of Instagram for $2 billion in 2012, it was a question of when, not if, advertising opportunities would begin rolling out on the channel that had amassed over 40 million users. So when Instagram first launched its ad platform 18 months later, Facebook-like advertising capabilities were expected.
However, those offerings were extremely limited in terms of targeting and functionality. Nearly two years and 300 monthly million users later, the latest iteration of the advertising platform finally delivers. Targeting will expand beyond users’ genders and ages, as interest-based targeting matched from Facebook profiles will now be available.
In addition, Instagram will be rolling out new ad formats specifically aimed towards direct response campaigns. “Shop Now” buttons and similar messaging will now be able to link outside the app to direct website visits and encourage app installs and offline sales, an offering that was only previously available via third-party services such as Like2Buy. This new “clickable” feature is an extension of a feature implemented in the app’s carousel ad units that became available earlier this year
The 20% Text Rule
Advertisers will also be offered more creative control over their assets. Since Instagram allowed ads on the platform, they have kept strict creative control and each ad had to be personally approved. Today, however, Instagram indicated that in the near future creative standards will be more like Facebook’s 20% text rule.
It will also be easier to buy ads. Instagram ads will soon be layered into Power Editor as well as available through partners. FBX will not be supported at this time. While advertising loads across the channel will still be limited, Instagram will be slightly increasing the ad frequency up from 1 – 2 ads per user per day. A very limited alpha testing will be available for select brands until the platform is fully launched.
Note this will not affect currently booked and planned brand campaigns, as many of these updates are direct -response oriented rather than brand building.
The expansion to targeting capabilities will apply first to only campaigns purchased via the Ads API, optimizing for website clicks or video views. The targeting for brand campaigns is expected by 1Q of 2016. That targeting will be essentially interest-based targeting. The segments are still being finalized and will be announced closer to the end of Q2.
Our Point of View
While Instagram’s latest advertising capabilities are promising, the roll-out process for the updated version of its advertising will take time, as the channel tests and adapts its functionalities. With today’s updates, Instagram has presented us with new opportunities to test and learn, as we look to build and develop campaigns to increase overall brand awareness and digital ROI.