Instagram recently announced several planned improvements to their advertising module, stating that these are in preparation for making their ads service available to all businesses. For the past 18 months, the social media platform has only accepted ads from a few handpicked brands, but it appears that this will change soon enough.
One of the improvements will be more refined customer targeting options, as the current system only allows advertisers to filter audiences by age, gender, and country. After implementation, brands will be able to identify customers based on user interests, demographics, and many other factors. Instagram will eventually start to use Facebook data as well, opening up even more targeting possibilities.
Future ads will also contain various Call to Action buttons. Brands can use these to drive specific objectives, such as getting customers to download an app, visit their website, or purchase a product. This feature will hopefully provide a seamless transition from casual browsing to conversion.
In addition to normal image and video ads, Instagram is also planning to offer a new carousel advertising format. This will allow businesses to use a series of images and create a visual narrative, while letting users control the flow of information. According to the platform, the goal is to let brands “tell a deeper story” to potential customers.
The Impact on Social Advertising
How well will these ads fare compared to other channels? That remains to be seen, but Instagram has shared some promising numbers from their pilot run. For instance, they claim that sponsored posts on Instagram yielded a 2.9x higher ad recall than the Nielsen Brand Effect’s norms for online advertising.
While Instagram has long been known as a platform for branding and not much else, a robust advertising system will give businesses a direct, concrete way to earn profit. With over 200 million daily active users, this could become an excellent lead generation tool for brands of all sizes, and a major source of revenue for Facebook.
Social media marketers should keep an eye on these developments over the coming months. Once implemented, Instagram will likely become an even more important and lucrative online marketing channel.