The wildly popular photo-sharing social platform, Instagram, has quite the cult following of consumers who love the user-friendly photo filters, allowing them to communicate their likes/dislikes, location, and life experiences easily and quickly in the form of a photo. Consumers also love their user generated social “retreat,” where they can go to find solace from the ad clutter of other social platforms and see only what users chose to see.
With over 150 million active members, Instagram users have a loud voice but ultimately, the voice of Wall Street investors was louder. Instagram needed to capitalize on its popularity and monetize its service, in the form of paid ads. And just as we’ve seen on other social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, when a social platform finds success, advertisers are then next to come knocking on their door. This time it’s Instagram – and advertisers are about to get a piece of the Instagram success; enter paid ads.
While Instagram announced the advent of paid ads earlier this month, it wasn’t until Instagram announced this past weekend that users were able to see for themselves what the ads will look like in the Instagram feed for the first time. The sponsored photos have a similar appearance to regular Instagram photos, however users will be able to tell if the post is a sponsored ad by the word “sponsored” in the top right corner with a blue arrow icon.
While paid ads have not rolled out to the masses yet, a select few advertisers have been invited to be a part of the test pool, namely Levi’s, Ben & Jerry’s, General Electric and PayPal.
Data is King
Instagram will be getting a leg up from its parent company, Facebook, when it comes to ad targeting. With Facebook’s help, Instagram will be using data gathered from user’s Facebook and Instagram habits – i.e., your likes and dislikes, who you’re friends with, and what you’re interested in. Using this data, users will be specifically targeted with paid ads based on what will be most relevant.
Targeting will be crucial to the success of Instagram ads. Since users will be able to click on the bottom of a photo to hide the ad, as well as provide feedback, it is imperative that paid Instagram photos speak to the right audience, appealing to their interests effectively. Otherwise, users will kick marketers’ ad messaging to the curb, quick.
The Look, The Feel
Gone are the days that photo sharing was solely about art and photography. On Instagram, photos are a way of sharing your interests, activities and location with others. Today, Instagram photos are in fact worth a thousand words – conveying a messaging through a visual picture. It’s a social platform allowing users to visually express themselves and their experiences – this includes showing off their new designer duds, taking a photo of a truly life changing dinner, as well as complaining about a long line at the coffee shop. Consumers have an insatiable appetite for consuming great content and sharing their experiences with others. If marketers can become a part of that conversation of self-expression, they just might find the recipe for success.
The success of Instagram ads will hinge on marketers ability to effectively capture the essence and purpose of Instagram, while conveying a brand message. With that in mind, marketers will be faced with the challenge of blending their paid ad content into user’s feeds without appearing spammy or interrupting the user experience. While ads on Facebook tend to be promotional and action-driven, Instagram ads will need an entirely different approach – Instagram ads will need to promote a brand identity/experience.
Using Toyota as an example, instead of showing a picture of the new specs of the Toyota Camry, a successful Instagram ad might display a beautiful scenic photograph of where their new Camry was able to take them. The brand identity that is promoted via Instagram ads says “Adventure. Brought to you by Camry.” Now that’s marketing gold.
If you’re interested in learning more about Instagram advertising and building a social marketing presence, we’re offering a free social audit. Contact us today to speak with one of our strategists.