Instagram to Begin Testing Native Advertising

Instagram Ads


Instagram recently announced that it would begin testing a native advertising product in the coming week. Native advertising is content that is provided in the context of a user’s experience. The yet-to-be-titled ad product will show photos and videos from brands that users do not follow in the users’ Instagram feed. Since this is Instagram’s first foray into paid advertising, they have announced that users will have the ability to hide these ads, as well as the ability to provide feedback on the ads.

How it Works

Instagram has released very few details about how Instagram ads will function so far, not even giving an official name for the advertising product. Details on a pricing model, targeting options and frequency have yet to be announced. The initial roll-out will be limited to showing either photo or video posts in U.S. users’ Instagram feeds from select brands that already have a robust Instagram presence. Instagram has promised to make their ad product feel like a seamless part of the Instagram experience. No further details of how Instagram ads will be differentiated from brands’ organic content are available at this time.

While there had been language in Instagram’s Privacy Policy/Terms of Service that indicated Instagram would own the images posted by users for use in future advertising products, at this time Instagram promises that users will continue to own the photo and video content that they post to their site.

Resolution POV:

With more than 150 million users on Instagram, this ad product provides a great opportunity for brands to reach users in an engaging, content-rich environment. As with any new advertising medium, Instagram ads could provide advertisers with a first mover advantage on this rapidly growing social media platform.

Brands should keep in mind that as a new entrant to advertising, Instagram most likely will not provide the breadth and depth of targeting options that are currently available on other social media platforms.

Advertisers who would like to begin advertising on Instagram should:

  1. Identify top performing Instagram posts to help better understand what types of content the brand should focus on once Instagram ads become available.
  2. Establish a baseline for Instagram KPIs. Advertisers should consider using existing post engagement metrics.
  3. Increase posting frequency on Instagram to grow engaged user base and increase potential reach of Instagram ads.

Although it is too early to tell, we presume there may be opportunities down the road for Instagram to integrate its ad offering with Facebook’s, since Instagram is owned by Facebook,. As of now, Instagram is still a completely separate user experience and advertising platform from Facebook, and there have been no announcements regarding any merging of the two ad products. Possible future Facebook-Instagram ad products could include showing Instagram content to users who don’t follow brands in their Facebook feed, utilizing Instagram content as a promoted post ad product, or other cross-platform integrations.

Brands should research their current Instagram performance now to set KPIs and decide on the best content to take full advantage of Instagram ads once they are available. As with other social media ads, testing and re-testing are necessary to find the content that drive the best results.

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