It’s hard to believe that, just five years ago, two twenty-somethings launched a simple iPhone app called Instagram.

Five years and a $1bn acquisition later, Instagram is now a booming success as part of Facebook, imagining a world more connected through photos. 

Are digital marketers witnessing a watershed moment for Instagram? 200 countries have access to Instagram ads and further international expansion is expected.

By completely opening up its ad platform to all marketers and third party platforms, Instagram is marking a profound shift in its advertising model.

This is a fantastic opportunity for advertisers to easily reach an engaged and fast growing community of 400m users.

The benefit for Instagram is clear. The move will help it tap into potential ad revenue. But what does it mean for marketers, brands and importantly Instagram’s users?

Below, I’ve outlined the key takeaways for each of these groups. 

Marketers

Marketers with access to Instagram’s Ads API will now have unprecedented control over their social budgets.

Previously, marketers would have to buy advertising space via an Instagram sales representative, which was a slow process and has held back programmatic buying through the platform.

Now, this is very much a possibility and marketers can optimise and manage their campaigns more effectively.

The easy access that marketers now have to Instagram’s valued community is ground-breaking. Instagram is being treated as a targeting placement option for Facebook ad sets.

So with just a click of a button, marketers can replicate their existing Facebook ads on Instagram.

This means marketers can use the audience targeting capabilities of Facebook, removing the guesswork and friction of launching on a new publisher.

This tailored approach means marketers will more easily ensure KPIs are met.

Brands

Brands that use a platform with access to Instagram’s Ads API have the opportunity to engage directly with their fans in real time.

For example, Helen McGee, Head of Marketing International at Net-A-Porter commented:

The Instagram Ads API allows us to target a very specific European audience within 24 hours of our events.

Net-A-Porter can now drive better brand awareness, and importantly share exceptional fashion content with its customers.

By using just one interface to manage ads across various platforms, brands can significantly improve the speed of ad deployment.

Users

Finally, perhaps the greatest impact of a more open advertising structure is on Instagram’s users themselves.

Brands have a responsibility to use this opportunity to deliver a positive user experience and keep the audience engaged, especially as advertising on the platform is still a relatively new concept. 

This can be achieved by using rich visuals and considering other creative options such as image format (square, portrait, or landscape) and the viability of using the same creative across audiences and platforms.

Marketers that target users effectively with relevant content will inevitably be rewarded.

While Facebook will continue to dominate the budgets of advertisers to great effect, this shift by Instagram now provides an attractive alternative.

With Instagram revenue expected to equal a tenth of Facebook’s total ad revenue by 2017, by maximising the options available and diversifying spend, marketers will increase the efficiency of their ad placement. 

 

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Published 13 October, 2015 by Stephanie Carr

Stephanie is Vice President, EMEA at Marin Software. You can follow the company on Twitter or connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn.

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