Instagram ads, now for businesses large and small

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InstagramInstagram’s decision to begin rolling out ads has had ad execs salivating since it was first announced. Now the Facebook-owned image sharing service has announced it can serve ads in more than 30 countries and will be launching in all other markets in which it operates come the end of September. More importantly, though, businesses large and small will be able to take advantage of the platform.

Sensibly and unsurprisingly, Instagram is leveraging parent company Facebook’s ad infrastructure, meaning advertisers can target very specific demographics in the same way Facebook does. Recently engaged? Expect to see wedding venue ads in your Instagram feed soon. Bought a dog? Puppy training ads are likely to follow.

But how do Facebook’s ad tools make it easier for small businesses to run campaigns on Instagram? We don’t really know either, so we asked Instagram. This is what the company had to say: “We are now offering Instagram ads through Facebook’s ad management tools, like Power Editor.  We are also opening the API to Facebook Marketing Partners, and introducing Facebook’s auction model to Instagram, allowing any kind of business to place ads on Instagram”.

Advertisers can also now use a variety of ad formats, from informative or entertaining ones to those that allow users to shop for a product directly from an Instagram ad.

Instagram says businesses “of all sizes” have been testing these new capabilities and the company is seeing “significant demand, particularly in areas like e-commerce, travel, entertainment and retail”. It says the Gilt Groupe, for example, ran a campaign to win new customers and encourage them to install its app. The campaign drove an 85% lift in app installs.Instagram adsA few weeks ago Instagram added the ability for consumers to post landscape or portrait images (rather than only square ones) and it’s now added this functionality for advertisers. Advertisers can also now post videos of up to 30 seconds (regular Instagram videos are limited to 15 seconds).

Instagram has also added a new “premium product” called Marquee that “helps drive mass awareness and expanded reach in a short time-frame”, whatever that means. And its added “delivery and optimisation tools” for advertisers to use to manage their campaigns and tweak them as necessary to try and eek the most out of them.

This may sound like dire news for regular Instagram users, most of whom have only had to contend with baby pictures from their friends but will now have to deal with advertisements, too, but you can bet the company is working hard to balance the number and type of ads users see with regular content so as not to put them off the platform. To this end, it says it “will continue to improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see”.

We’ve yet to see an Instagram ad in South Africa, but it looks like we won’t have to wait much longer before we do.

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