Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Instagram Introduces Ads Into Users’ Feeds

A Pew survey reveals that of the 91 percent of American adults with cellphones, one in five use Instagram. Moreover, Pew found that Instagram appeals to the coveted 18- to 29-year-old demographic, as 43 percent of cellphone owners in that age bracket use Instagram. That’s a big deal for your clients.

As we mentioned last week, Pinterest made a move into advertising, and now, the photo-sharing app Instagram is following suit. On Oct. 24, Instagram posted a blog to inform users that an educational sample ad would appear in their feeds in the upcoming week.

Instagram, like Pinterest, is aiming to create ads that seamlessly blend in with existing feeds in order to maintain the interface users have come to love. Likewise, Instagram is also ensuring the new ads will be distinguished from organic posts by placing a “sponsored” link where a time stamp usually appears. The blog post told users that by clicking on the “sponsored” link, they could learn more about the new advertising features.

However, Instagram announced one key advertising component that deviates from the precedent established by Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Users will be able to opt out of an ad by simply pressing the “…” button underneath the photo. Users can click this to hide the ad and even offer feedback explaining why they disliked it.

It’s a cautious introduction to be sure, which undoubtedly speaks to many users’ frustrations with Instagram’s previous attempts at advertising. At the end of the blog post, Instagram reminded users that it doesn’t own the rights to their photos. This was not always the case. When Instagram originally tested the advertising waters, it announced that users’ photos could appear in brands’ ads. This didn’t go over well, as many users fired back with their disapproval. Instagram quickly backtracked. Nevertheless, innovative apps like SnapMyAd have helped bridge that gap by connecting brands with users who are willing to part with the rights to their photos for advertising purposes.

Instagram also announced that only a few, select brands will be included in its preliminary introduction of advertising. The app has chosen brands that have demonstrated a discerning use of the app with their own accounts. Quartz reported that these participating brands include Lexus, Ben & Jerry’s, Michael Kors, General Electric and more.

Just as Pinterest’s advertising debut matters for your department and advertisers, so does Instagram’s. As Time’s Alex Fitzpatrick pointed out, a Pew survey reveals that of the 91 percent of American adults with cellphones, one in five use Instagram. Moreover, Pew found that Instagram appeals to the coveted 18- to 29-year-old demographic, as 43 percent of cellphone owners in that age bracket use Instagram. That’s a big deal for your clients. The potential to get their message out there with the help of Instagram and fellow social media giants is unprecedented.

Be sure to prep your clients as Instagram continues to roll out its advertising offerings to the public. If their products and services would do well on the photo-sharing app, you may want to encourage them to set up an account and learn more about the app in anticipation of the new advertising features. It could be the perfect complement to your department’s solutions.