On March 4th Instagram announced the launch of carousel ads on a limited basis. These ads will feature a series of images that a user can view by swiping left. The company compares this format to multi-page advertising spreads in magazines. In addition, a “learn more” button that links to the advertiser’s website will accompany the images. Clicking this button will open a URL in an internal browser within Instagram which allows you to tap back arrow on the top bar and return to your feed easily.
Instagram says they won’t be charging advertisers more to use the carousel ads and they will be sold on a cost-per-impression basis.
Instagram notes that you may see formatting vary as they figure out what performs best. For instance, the video demo that accompanies Instagram’s announcement shows the “learn more” button only being displayed under the last image in the sequence. Users scrolling through their feed may not choose to swipe all the way to the last image, which could dramatically decrease click through rates. So far, the only carousel ad I have seen in my personal Instagram feed is the same one shown in the demo video, but the “learn more” button was below each image. Note to Instagram: If this was a last minute change, it was a good one!
The “carousel” feature can allow for more flexibility. A different product feature could be emphasized in each image or the various offerings in a product line.
Up until now, Instagram ads have only been a means of increasing brand awareness because users have not been able to click on them. The new addition of a link can increase site traffic and maybe even sales.
The previous lack of a clickable link left advertisers gauging impact with hard to measure metrics such as product recall. Now advertisers will have the ability to measure the effectiveness of their campaign.
Remember, Facebook is Instagram’s parent company. According to Instagram, they target by using “information about what you do on Instagram and Facebook” including “the people you follow and the photos and videos you like on Instagram, and your interests and other basic info on Facebook”. The combined information from the two platforms can make targeting incredibly accurate.
Instagram is the fastest growing social media network with over 300 million users. Its engagement is 15 times greater than Facebook’s. The average Instagram user spends 21 minutes in the app each day. Considering it’s a fairly basic app consisting of images and short videos, that’s a lot.
The results were promising when Instagram launched paid advertising with a small number of big brands including Michael Kors, Ben & Jerry’s, and General Electric. Michaels Kors’ first ad received four times the number of likes they would normally receive in response to a regular, non-promoted post and 16 times the number of new followers.
As of right now, the number of companies able to take advantage of Instagram advertising is still limited. This will likely change as the company increases its offerings. They started with single image sponsored posts in late 2013, launched video ads last year, and now carousel ads with a clickable link. My guess is that Instagram will soon allow advertisers to include a video in their “carousel” or a “learn more” button with their individual video or image.
Instagram is investing heavily in its ad measurement and targeting capabilities according to James Quarles, the company’s global head of business and brand development. With this addition of a clickable link, advertisers will be wanting easily accessible data from Instagram. Maybe an Instagram advertising platform is in the works. Either way, we will be seeing more from Instagram advertising.
What do you think about Instagram’s new carousel ads? Find me on Google+ or comment below to continue the discussion.
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