Advertisers looking for the next big opportunity in social media received good news this week…

One of the most popular platforms, Instagram, will soon open its doors to advertisers large and small. 

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is one of the dominant mobile photo sharing services in the world. But up until now, its experiments with ad offerings like Carousel Ads have been exclusive to major brands like Old Navy and L’Oreal, as well as large agencies.

But that will be changing as Instagram is preparing to offer a larger number of advertisers access to its attractive user base.

In the coming months, it plans to integrate with Facebook’s ad buying interfaces so that advertisers can purchase ads the same way they currently purchase ads on Facebook.

The company will also offer an API through which advertisers can purchase ads and manage and track their campaigns programatically. The API will initially be available to select Facebook Marketing Partners.

A huge opportunity for advertisers

Instagram counts more than 300m active monthly users, so the news that more advertisers will be able to reach those users is a big deal.

What’s more, Instagram will be adding targeting options similar to those Facebook advertisers currently have access to, namely demographic and interest-based targeting. Instagram also says that it will allow advertisers to leverage “information [they] have about their own customers” suggesting that companies will be able to apply retargeting and custom audiences on Instagram.

Make no mistake about it, broadly available Instagram ad products will create significant and long-lasting opportunities for advertisers, especially those who are able to combine Instagram and Facebook campaigns to great effect.

But despite the fact that it appears Instagram’s ad offerings will take advantage of Facebook interfaces and features, as advertisers explore this new social ad frontier, they would be wise to consider that Instagram is not Facebook, and Facebook is not Instagram. These are two separate platforms, used differently by many of the same users, and which often deliver different results.

As such, Instagram’s offerings will provide advertisers with new and different ways to engage their target markets.