Instagram releases advertising to all brands

This week saw a rather exciting announcement from Instagram: from the end of this month, brands of all sizes will be able to access advertising on the very cool, image-led social platform, in more than 30 countries.

Would I go far enough to say that this announcement could redefine social media marketing? I would, provided that Instagram follows some rules and avoids some pitfalls.

Firstly, however, let’s look at what’s available and why it’s so good.

Advertising was tested on a small audience to start with, who didn’t object to having brand messages pushed out into their feeds. Here’s the first place where Instagram will have to be rigorous in order to avoid alienating its users: keeping impression caps strict and ensuring that advertisers target properly according to target audience interests.

Ad formats are extensive. Square images, landscape images, 15-second video ads and 30-second video ads all form part of the mix, allowing brands to showcase their mission and USPs in a truly aesthetic fashion. The video formats are potentially very effective for joining up TV advertising with the online world.

Instagram is also launching a new buying option, entitled Marquee, which will allow brands to promote and truly own a moment, for a limited period of time. This will resonate with exciting product releases, album debuts and film launches, for example.

Where Instagram is on a par with its competitors (and potentially set to steal a march over them, subject to the correct execution), is in the launch of its call to action formats. Users will be invited to Shop Now, Install Now, Sign Up or Learn More, covering all manner of hard and softer conversion touchpoints.

When we marry all of the above with Instagram’s integration with Facebook, the power of the potential reach of Instagram advertising is formidable to say the least.


Where Instagram and its advertisers need to respect the opportunity of a captive audience is in the mantra of quality. Images and videos should be of higher end production quality and genuinely exciting to watch.

Crucially, as already underlined, Instagram advertising will live or die based on how greedy the platform becomes for revenue share. If Instagram becomes a free-for-all in terms of indiscriminate targeting and a limitless impression inventory, the very core the platform—the users—will cease to engage. On the other hand, ads that are served at the right frequency, to the right people and at the right time will ensure that Instagram remains a social platform with the ability to convert based on emotional response.

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