Since launching in 2013, Instagram’s advertising platform has been reserved mostly for the elite brands of the world (i.e. Michael Kors & Lexus). However, Instagram recently opened its advertising network to significantly expand availability to additional businesses and agencies. What does this mean?

More ads — a lot more — are coming soon to an Instagram feed near you.

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Currently, the only caveat is that the business or agency has to have a Facebook representative mapped to its business. Instagram also expanded its advertising options to include an increase in the length of video ads to 30 seconds (doubling the previous 15-second limit), and a premium package, called Marquee, which works to quickly garner large awareness and reach. This will allow for large brands to run “ad blitzes” over a short period of time. Additionally, the increase in video length allows brands to more effectively communicate their messages, and have a bit more leeway when shooting ads.

If you are looking to take advantage of Instagram’s advertising expansion, we’ve written the five considerations for running paid ads on Instagram, including when it might not work, and how to make the most of your ads. But first, a little background on the channel.

About Instagram as a Social Sharing Platform

Instagram users not only follow personal connections, but also connect around their passion points (influencers, celebrities, bloggers, brands). Instagram is especially popular among younger age groups, including Gen Z and Millennials. Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users age 13-24 say they interact with brands regularly on the platform.

Key Stats:

  • 300+ million monthly active users, up from 200 million in 2014 and 150 million in 2013
  • 70 million photos uploaded everyday, which generate 2.5 billion likes
  • People follow 300+ accounts on average
  • A study by the Pew Research Center shows 59 percent of US users visit the app daily, the only other more engaging social network app being Facebook

1. Know When to Advertise with Instagram

Various brands, including GE, PayPal, Lexus, and Maybelline, have already tested the platform to drive brand and product awareness. Through Nielsen research, Instagram found that 97 percent of campaigns generated ad recall that was a 2.8-times higher than what Nielsen normally measures in online ads.

To thrive on Instagram, your brand must be comfortable with authenticity. The Instagram community prides itself on being authentic, and while users are open to engaging with brands through the platform, they prefer to do so on their terms.

2. Know When Instagram Ads Might Not Be a Fit

Advertising on Instagram may not be for everyone. While Instagram campaigns are highly successful at driving brand awareness and ad recall, driving toward objectives, such as product purchase and lead generation, have not proven to be as directly impactful.

Keep in mind that the Instagram experience is almost entirely mobile, and if that doesn’t fit with your customers or your outcome, advertising on Instagram may be a challenge. Additionally, Instagram advertising may not be the right fit for a company trying to reach a small or highly specific audience.

3. Creative Options

Instagram continues to offer more ads that encourage users to take an action, such as buying a product or downloading an app. At this time, there are three main ad types to choose from when creating Ads on Instagram. Each of the ads works slightly differently and has a different campaign objective.

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Both images and videos are supported within the ads, but for each there are specs to which you must adhere.

When determining which ads to use, it’s important to factor in the type of visual asset that will resonate with your brands’ audience. Best practice is to use authentic-looking photos and videos that tell a story. Instagram’s audience is young, savvy, and regularly interacts with brands. Authenticity is key for brands trying Instagram ads. Consider using the following photo styles to gain maximum exposure:

  • Lifestyle photography
  • Still-life photography
  • Landscape photography
  • Stylistic video
  • Gifs

4. Instagram Has Facebook-Like Targeting

Instagram has also added more powerful tools to improve ad targeting. Because the ads are managed through the Facebook interface, most targeting options available in Facebook are also available on Instagram.

It should be noted, however, that the audience size on Instagram is significantly smaller than Facebook. For this reason, we would advise against targeting that is extremely granular, which would not enable your brand to generate adequate reach.

5. Measuring & Overall Costs

Before you dip your toes into Instagram, make sure you have all of your analytic funnels setup. If your brand is utilizing Facebook pixels to track conversions or website interactions, these pixels can be utilized for Instagram as well.

In terms of costs, Instagram typically shows a higher CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rate across the board when compared to Facebook. This should be anticipated and should be noted when budgeting for an Instagram campaign, and when setting bids. Although there are no longer minimum spends in place to run ads through Instagram, we see most brands allocate a minimum of around $5,000. This ensures that there are enough funds in a testing budget to run a campaign that will generate sufficient traction to produce results for your brand.

6. Instagram Will Continue to Evolve (BONUS)

Facebook currently has about two million advertisers and many of them are eager to begin aiming their messages at Instagram’s approximately 300 million monthly active users. They could end up generating significant revenue for a site that until now has largely been supported by Facebook.

One thing is for sure though, the company will continue to evolve its advertising platform and expand ways to allow brands to engage with its passionate users.

Have something to ad to this story? (pun intended) Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

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