Instagram ads to expand beyond US. Here are some top tips for marketers


By Chris Lee

Facebook-owned photo app Instagram is to roll advertising out to new markets following successful trials with a select group of brands in the US. Announced in its blog, Instagram will make ads available in Canada, the UK and Australia later this year.

Since they were introduced in November 2013, Instagram ads have been proven to enjoy higher response rates than other online ads and the service itself now boasts more than 200 million users worldwide in just four years’ existence. It could therefore be very attractive to marketers.

The company said: “So far, our community-focused efforts are working. The results for advertisers have been positive and in some cases, well about the industry’s average for performance. We’re excited to build on this momentum, and in the coming months we will extend the same level of care and consideration as we introduce ads on Instagram to our global community.”

Instagram is working to get ads right

A great deal of audience consultation went into Instagram app development, and Shane O’Leary, a Dublin-based brand planner for consultants Target McConnells, believes this is the right approach.

“As with all social platforms that use a ‘create user base first, monetise later’ strategy, Instagram has a conundrum on its hands that could shape the future of the business,” he told NMK. “It’s interesting to hear [Instagram co-founder] Kevin Systrom repeatedly emphasising the focus for the company is to ‘keep the standard really, really high’ for its first ads. That’s a smart move. Instagram is a space that, more than any other social network, places value on aesthetics, and this simply has to be maintained. People will accept ‘native’ or in stream advertising if it doesn’t jar with what they’re used to seeing on the platform.”

Making the most of Instagram ads

So how should marketers in the new territories prepare for Instagram ads?

For O’Leary, generally brands should think of Instagram advertising as a way to improve the reach of what they are already doing.

“Most brand accounts understand the need to be pleasing on the eye and to focus on equity driving rather than harsh or unpalatable sales messages. Look at what the likes of Patagonia, Adidas, Red Bull and Disneyland are creating, and take learnings from them,” he advised.

According to O’Leary, Instagram extolls the virtue of ‘finding beauty everywhere’ through its recent brand book.

“It’s clear that [Instagram] wants ‘ads’ that don’t look like normal ads, but an extension of what’s already occurring on the platform. Brands shouldn’t move too far from what they currently (or at least should) focus on with other social ad channels – laser targeting, being relevant, useful or entertaining and above all focusing on ‘on site’ engagement,” he concluded. “As we’ve seen with Facebook, and increasingly Twitter, patrolling this is difficult, but it’s of benefit to all parties – users, brands and the integrity of the platform, if advertisers take this on board.”

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