Instagram is growing up right before our very eyes. Over the past five years, the image-sharing platform has transformed into a brand engagement powerhouse for retailers eager to connect with Instagram's audience of over 400 million active users.After restricting initial access to a select number of brands, Instagram has expanded its advertising solutions to the general public, which can now advertise to users worldwide. Here's what you need to know about the recent updates to Instagram paid advertising opportunities:
Hey, This Looks Familiar…Taking a cue from its parent company Facebook, Instagram advertising adheres to a cost-per-click (CPC) model in which advertisers only pay for ads that users have clicked. These ad solutions are available through Facebook's self-serve Power Editor, in addition to Instagram's API. Instagram offers identical targeting options as Facebook, allowing marketers to target users by location, demographics, interests, and actions. The same robust Custom Audience and Lookalike Audience tools on Facebook for Business are also available on its Instagram counterpart.
Images, Videos, Carousels - Oh My!Although the technology might be old hat for marketers familiar with paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram for Business offers its own suite of ad formats, which include Image, Video, Carousel and Marquee.
Image ads, which appear in Instagram feeds, let marketers create powerful call-to-action buttons (for example, "Shop Now" or "Learn More"), opening up direct-response opportunities for brands seeking to drive traffic to their websites. Video ads provide another visually compelling way to hold a user's attention for up to 30 seconds (doubling the previous 15-second limit). Carousel ads serve as a more flexible form of Image ads, allowing marketers to present up to 4 images for increased engagement. Last but not least, Marquee ads take center stage as full home page advertisements that users can't miss.Don't think it's hip to be square? With the new ad options, brands are not limited to the platform's signature square images for their Instagram advertising.
Think Brand, Not SalesAccording to a recent Pew Research study, 26 percent of adult Internet users are active on Instagram. Not surprisingly, the competition for Instagram advertising will be fierce as marketers race to reach this audience. Quality and relevance will be key to running cost-effective campaigns as Instagram's advertising algorithms overwhelmingly favor those with high user engagement.
For advertisers seeking to captivate this audience, they must keep in mind that Instagram users expect visually striking images and authentic connections. It's not about selling a product, but rather offering a lifestyle. The marketers who succeed on Instagram advertising will be the ones who leverage image and video to tell stories that resonate with their target audience.