It’s About Time: Instagram Offers Branded Content Ads


Branded Content Ads, a functionality that has existed for Facebook campaigns since April 2016, will now be available on Instagram for advertisers to promote creators’ branded organic posts as in-feed ads via Facebook Ads Manager.

Previously, branded content on Instagram was strictly organic unless boosted directly from a creators’ Ad Manager from an influencer network. Creators could tag an advertiser by enabling the Branded Content Tag, but brands did not have access to the content. Now, advertisers can include creators’ posts in their campaigns’ creative rotation and scale the content to reach new and targeted audiences beyond just the creators’ following.

The in-feed ad product will be available to all advertisers by the end of June 2019 with ads for Stories rolling out over the coming months.


How it Works

To build a Branded Content Ad, creators must grant post permission to business partners through Advanced Settings. Advertisers can then access the content through Ads Manager under Existing Posts. Branded Content Ads are only applicable for the following campaign objectives: Reach, Brand Awareness, Traffic, Video Views and Engagement.


Figure 1: Campaign managers will find all content the brand has been tagged in under Existing Posts when creating a new ad.


For added accountability, a “Paid partnership with [brand]” disclaimer is included above post captions in the ads, with a “sponsored” disclosure included at the top of the post.

Currently, it is not possible to promote a creator’s organic branded Instagram content on Facebook.

Detailed instructions for advertisers and creators can be found here.


Implications for Advertisers, Creators and Consumers

Branded Content Ads deepen Instagram’s stake in influencer marketing. According to Facebook, “68% of people say they come to Instagram to interact with creators.” With 1B MAUs and growing, it’s no surprise Instagram is accelerating efforts to maximize advertisers’ ROI.

Extending the reach of brand campaigns will no longer be the sole responsibility of creators. Since advertisers will now be able to truly scale their collaborations, creators will have to produce bespoke, thumb-stopping content for brands.

Additionally, creators will need to work in lockstep with brand partners to ensure their content is promoted to audiences authentic to their own, especially since consumers will potentially begin seeing sponsored posts from people they don’t follow.

As the platform also tests hiding Likes from posts, prioritizing content quality will be exceedingly important moving forward.


Resolution POV

Branded Content Ads have been a long-anticipated update in Instagram’s effort to enhance content and partnerships. The functionality helps extend content shelf-life, while mitigating the limitations of organic reach in the newsfeed.

While currently limited to just creators, we expect to see this ad functionality expand to publishers who offer Instagram content as part of their partner-direct deals. Until then, advertisers can experiment in promoting creators’ posts in-feed, but expansion to Stories will be a critical next step. Instagram Stories are used by 500M users every day. This level of activity, coupled with creators’ popularity, makes Stories an extremely valuable opportunity for advertisers.

This product update brings a new layer of transparency to the platform. With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continuing to crack down on sponsorship disclosures, and the volume of fake followers, engagement and #sponcon collaborations on the rise, the ads take the guesswork out of compliance by helping standardize and streamline brand partnerships.

Branded Content Ads also debuts on the heels of Checkout and creator product tags. As Instagram ramps up its in-app shopping experiences, creators will play a necessary role in closing the gap between content and commerce. It seems a natural expansion that advertisers could soon be able to turn creators’ organic shoppable posts into targeted ads.



Creators have been at the forefront of many recent platform updates, making it clear Instagram is doubling down on the business of influence and its role in the rapidly evolving marketing landscape.

Further Reading