Instagram has had enough of slowly walking behind Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The social media platform has announced that it is now opening itself up to both local and global marketers, leaving behind the days when it only allowed a few of the major brands to put messages on it.
Even though Facebook bough the photo sharing platform back in 2012, it has a good job so far done of keeping it ad-light. However, this past Tuesday, June 2, 2015, the company announced that it will be opening up the Instagram feed to any advertisers that would like to use it.
But the decission should be of no surprise. It’s a well known fact that social media platforms make their money from ads, and Instagram has been slowly but surely moving in this direction. The year Instagram first started offering ads in the United States was 2013. And just a year later, in 2014, the website started expanding the offer to include UK marketers.
While the ads were primitive at first, only supporting branded accounts with simple photos, the photo sharing platform quickly started matching demand and allowing for videos to be uploaded as well.
How soon should you expect to see your Instagram news feed become a lot more crowded with ads, you may ask? By the end of the year.
The photo sharing platform is also working on expanding its advertising targeting features so that it 300 million users will be able to be sorted by interests, age, gender, demographic, behavior, and pretty much any other criteria that you can find on mother-website Facebook.
But that’s not all. Instagram will even begging testing a new kind of ad which will allow users to buy a product, install an app or sign up for a newsletter simply by clicking on a link inside the ads hosted by Instagram. They will be highly interactive and are intended to “tell a deeper story” about the products advertised. The company calls them “carousel ads”.
Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, gave a statement saying that “These updates completely change the character and nature of Instagram advertising. New ways to target and an API are both things that advertisers have been asking for, for a long time”.
While some users may complain about the change, advertisers and investors are very excited. They’ve been waiting for Instagram to catch up to all the other major social media platforms as users on the photo sharing platform are seen as being a generally young and passionate group that is not only more willing to buy products, but it also likes, comments and shares posts more than users on other platforms, including Facebook.
Users, on their end, will have some control over what ads they are exposed to. The company has made it clear that they will allow users to give feedback in regards to the ads that they receive, and sort them by relevance, which will also inform what other ads to send their way in the future.
Debra Aho Williamson does warn however that the ads may not match the beautiful imagery that Instagram users are used seeing when spending time on the website. She offers the belly fat reducing ads that are popular on Facebook as an example.
But all may not be lost as James Quarles, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development, admits that visual storytelling has more resonance for brands and insists that the ads that users will see will be for things that matter to them and. Brian Wieser, a media analyst with Pivotal Research, agrees and promises that Instagram will try to keep its environment as pure and true to its soul as possible.
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