Instagram has fast become a go-to social platform for brands and Instagram's owner, Facebook, has been encouraging advertisers to embrace it as its user ranks have swelled to more than 300m.

One of the ad offerings that Facebook recently rolled out on Instagram is carousel ads, "a way for brands to share more images with people interested in their post, in much the same way as a multi-page print campaign."

When a user swipes left on a carousel ad, additional images the brand has selected are displayed and the brand can provide a link to its website.

A key attribute of carousel ads is that they're designed specifically for the Instagram experience and are not intrusive. If a user is not interested, the ad can be skipped and the rest of the content is not injected into their experience.

Brands clearly like the concept and last week, Instagram highlighted a number of brands that have adopted carousel ads since their unveiling. 

Cable network Showtime is using the ad format to promote its series Penny Dreadful. Showtime's carousel's have been developed around the show's characters in an effort to better acquaint interested users with those characters.

According to Showtime's Donald Buckley, EVP of Program Marketing, Media, Promotions and Digital Services, "The Instagram carousel expands our ability to showcase the richness and complexities of Penny Dreadful and the series’ multi-dimensional characters."

Banana Republic and Old Navy are using carousel ads to highlight their latest fashion styles, and L’Oreal Paris created a carousel ad campaign around Kristina Bazan, a popular L’Oreal community member, to demonstrate how she uses L’Oreal's products.

Finally, consumer electronics brand Samsung turned to carousel ad to promote its Galaxy S 6 smart phones. Each image in its carousel ads highlights a different feature of the phones.

Sizzle, substance, or both?

Needless to say, the carousel ad format appeals to brands on an aesthetic level. As Malena Higuera, L’Oreal Paris' SVP of Marketing stated, the ads allow brands to tell a story in a "visually compelling and beautiful way."

That's particularly important in social channels, where cutting through the clutter is so important, and probably explains why the latest ad offerings from Facebook are highly visual.

Take, for instance, cinemagraphs, which brands like Stuart Weitzman are doing a fantastic job of employing in creative, stunning ways.

But will these beautiful new ad offerings do more than grab consumers' attention? If they can deliver substance in addition to sizzle, the face of social media content marketing could become a lot more visual very quickly.

Patricio Robles

Published 14 April, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Ivan Burmistrov

Ivan Burmistrov, Usability Expert at interUX Usability Engineering Studio OÜ

This will not work.

(1) There are no affordances (like arrows or thumbnails) differentiating carousels from static images and clearly indicating that they are scrollable. Users will not notice small dots below the slide.

(2) Action button appears only at the last slide. But interaction with carousel slides decreases exponentially and no more than 10% of users (under favorable auspices) reach the fourth slide.

(3) It's impossible to tap the dots with a human finger.

(4) Users will not notice the action button at the last slide because it is too small, ghost and appears outside the slide while user's attention will be on the slide image.

(5) Making a button ghost is the perfect way of saying "Don't click me".

about 3 years ago

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