The Rise of Instagram Advertising

Do you use Instagram? You may have noticed that Instagram advertising is growing rapidly since its timid introduction back in 2013, but what does this mean for businesses and does Instagram advertising pave the path for increased awareness for brands?

Instagram has over 300 million users now, and you could forgive them for surging ahead with their advertising strategy, especially as they know that their ‘real value in the long run is going to be in the advertising space’, according to Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom. But they are deliberately taking it slow for a number of important reasons, including the fact that they don’t want to flood users’ feeds and so they can see how advertising works for them as a social media outlet. Another crucial consideration is they want to see how well people respond to them.

At the moment, Instagram advertising seems mainly limited to select big brands who can sponsor ads to targeted users, but even smaller businesses are getting in on the act.

It’s also interesting to note that you don’t have to be a follower of a certain brand for them to show up in your news feed and Instagram allows users to remain in control as a simple swipe will remove anything we don’t want to see (providing direct feedback to Instagram on likes and dislikes). The response to Instagram advertising so far has been favourable. Users like the fact that the ads they see fall naturally into their feed, (which was Instagram’s intention in the first place), as well as the imaginative, stylish images and clever yet simple captions.

Take Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, whose branded Instagram ad reached 9.8 million people in the U.S in just eight days – now that’s impressive when it comes to advertising!

And yet, when it comes to Instagram advertising, the reason brands are keen to put up a pic is not necessarily for direct conversion, but because they want to get their brand out there and to share their values, ideals and vision with existing and potential customers. Social media, is, after all, about engaging with each other and if brands do this right, they are halfway there.

Brands want even more from their advertising, which is why Instagram recently introduced yet another format called carousel ads. This gives brands so much more flexibility as users can swipe to see additional images or links, giving them extra control on how much, or little they want to see.

Airbnb was one of the first to use this new format for its ‘Never a Stranger’ campaign that focused on feel good moments, friendships and adventure and it was supported by a microsite that featured real Airbnb hosts, which is, after all, what the brand is about!

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Although, for smaller businesses/brands, a big obstacle to Instagram advertising is cost as currently, it is still hugely expensive to slot your business into a sponsored ad space, but with time and users getting used to it being part of their feed, this should change. It would be good to see Instagram advertising accessible to more brands than just the big names but in the meantime, having an Instagram page that users can follow is a great start and the perfect way to be creative and engage with your target audience.

Instagram offer tools to help you along the way but don’t forget that any good advertising agency can also help you create cool Instagram posts as part of your social media strategy.

Instagram advertising is definitely here to stay.