June 8, 2015

It's actually happening! For all the times I've said don't get your hopes up about Instagram ads coming to the "general" user, Instagram has made me eat my words 😉 Instagram announced that they will officially start making ads "available to businesses of all types and sizes."

Obviously, this is BIG news for marketers and businesses. And it's cause for consideration as an Instagram user.

To be completely honest, I liked that Instagram ads weren't available to the general public. It forced marketers to be creative and organic in their content - creating the best possible content to share with their Instagram audience, rather than throwing money at ads the "easy" way. It kept the Instagram feed more or less true to who you were following and relevant to the content you wanted to see. Unlike Facebook (no offense) which can get a little over the top salesy, promotional, and in-your-face with its marketing related posts.

So, yes, I am a little concerned about how the ads will affect Instagram users. I'm concerned about how Instagram ads will be monitored or controlled for authenticity and relevance to an Instagram audience. I'm concerned about the number of new business accounts that are about to pop-up on Instagram now that the "throw money at advertising" marketers will have a vehicle to unleash their self-promotional content onto the 300 million plus active users.

That being said, this was obviously inevitable. Sooner or later ads were going to come to the masses on Instagram and with their ownership by Facebook and the incredible success Facebook has with its ad platform, they were obviously going to translate this money-making tool to Instagram. And, yes, of course, I'm sure Instagram has heard endless requests for this ability and would have to acquiesce at some point.

So, enough of me being the debbie-downer about this topic! Let's look at how Instagram ads will work and how you can use them to your advantage.

Not only have I read the release statement by Instagram, but I was fortunate to attend Facebook's Boost Your Business event the day after the announcement and I got to talk with Jonathan Czaja, Facebook's Small Business Director, one-on-one for some additional insight into how this ad platform will work.

Here's the quick, layman's terms low down for you:

  • Instagram ads will be rolled out to all businesses (read: rolled out. You might not get them right away)
  • The Instagram ads platform will be managed through the Facebook ads manager - you can create ads for Facebook, Instagram, or both platforms
  • Instagram ads will have targeting features based on demographics and interests (since they're using the Facebook ad platform)
  • Instagram ads will have clickable buttons in the ads which will link directly to a website or other destination (button options will include things like: Shop Now, Learn More, Sign Up)
  • Instagram ads will be more affordable than the current large campaigns (hundreds of thousands of dollars) being promoted by big brands on Instagram

The ability to have a clickable button in the ad is going to be HUGE for marketers. This is going to give you direct connections with your audience to encourage them to buy, visit, download, or sign up. The call-to-action is right there for you in full ease for the user! No "click on the link in the bio" or other instructions to follow through on the ad content.

And if you already use the Facebook ads manager, you'll be a quick study to start creating and implementing Instagram ads into your strategy. Not to mention the ease of having both ad management tools in the same place! This will also allow you to streamline your ads and marketing content to have similar designs and styles across both platforms.

Some of the things I don't know yet, and which haven't been discussed are how the ads will appear in the Instagram feed. Of course, we can assume some sort of algorithm (I know, cringe now) will contribute to this determination. But whether there will be limits to how many ads a user sees daily, weekly, per log in, etc. has not been announced. They also haven't discussed how ads will be "approved" and what conditions will be in place to maximize "organic" looking photos and videos in the ads.

However, they have indicated that users will have enhanced feedback response to let Instagram know why they don't like an ad or don't want to see certain types of ads. This may help manage the levels of ad intensity in your feed. But as a marketer, keep this in mind - your audience will be just as able to give negative feedback on your ads. So really take the time to craft organic, quality content for your ads.

I also don't know if we'll have access to the new carousel ads layout option. Since this is being introduced on Facebook to all marketers, I would think Instagram marketers could use this too, but there hasn't been any confirmation of this.

Of course, as I find out more about these things, and other parameters for the ads, I'll be sure to share them with you!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Brilliant news for internet marketers like myself. Unlike the likes of Twitter, Instagram has a brilliant attention graph. If your photos appear within the stream of a user you can be certain they will see it and most likely pay attention to it. But it will all come down to how improved their targeting capabilities are. Great article Jenn, keep writing!

    1. Thanks Jackie! It is good news for marketers but it will be important to keep the ads organic to Instagram styles and community expectations to really see quality results.

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