Instagram's New Ad Format: Why Instagram Influencers Still Matter
June 11, 2015
Instagram’s New Sponsored Ads Featuring CTA Buttons
In a peculiar and perhaps providential showdown between photo-sharing giants Instagram and Pinterest, both mobile apps debuted their new e-commerce offerings at the onset of this month to many a CMO’s delight and brands’ high hopes for a sales-laden summer. While there’s debate between which platform offers higher purchase intent or whether consumers will respond favorably to CTA buttons brandished amidst their Instagram browsing experience, it’s clear that brands looking to capitalize on Instagram’s millennial consumers will first need to understand a few key concepts before they can conquer the digital playing field.
Additionally, Instagram also launched their API software that includes campaign tracking tools and the ability for users to target consumers based on basic demographics including age, gender, likes, and Facebook interests. James Quarles, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development notes that the new Instagram advertising technology comes largely by way of Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) and that “it would have taken us years to build this tech stack for ourselves. So, we’re fortunate to be able to take select pieces of Facebook’s tech stack.”
Since Instagram has provided a direct, result-driven path to purchase, the focus for brands now shifts towards creating sponsored or branded content in a way that resonates with potential consumers or better yet, can powerfully influence their purchasing behavior and truly maximize the new action-oriented Instagram ad features.
Is It Just Another Instagram Ad?
Instagram, perhaps more so than any other photo-sharing social platform, is largely about immersing yourself in content that represents a certain lifestyle, or the people you care to hear from regularly (i.e. popular fashion, lifestyle bloggers, or social media influencers). When viewed on Instagram’s elegant, minimalistic-style newsfeed and against a consumer’s carefully curated lifestyle content, brand ads might stand out in a way that foments an apathetic or even worse negative response from audiences. Engagement with display ads has fallen precipitously low (less than 0.1% on average – see also 10 Shocking But True Display Advertising Stats), so Instagram risks creating another irrelevant ad in the vast world of advertising options.
Why Instagram Influencers Still Matter
Consumers follow accounts with the best (and oftentimes most entertaining) user-generated, lifestyle-centric content. In order to best leverage Instagram’s new advertising features, brands need to strategically align with Instagram influencers who already occupy the prime content niche verticals desired and have an open line of authentic communication with the brand’s target audience. The best Instagram influencer sponsorships allow for genuine, word-of-mouth advertising that’s not only heard by target audiences, but acted upon.
Instagram influencer sponsorships start with proper alignment between the digital influencer and brand (see more about choosing the right influencer here). Instagram influencer sponsorship can dramatically drive traffic and exposure towards products, service or event through seamlessly blending brand message with the Instagrammer’s own organic content. See picture above for how Instagrammer ItsJudyTime created an Instagram Sponsorship for brand Blue Apron with massive engagement and brand awareness.
While the new ads on Instagram do offer (more) direct purchasing ability, brands still need to develop content that converts, ways to funnel traffic towards their newfound sponsored content ads, and perhaps most importantly, find a way to galvanize their newly targeted audiences towards their brand. For brands seeking to leverage the new ads on Instagram, influencer marketing offers unprecedented levels of reach, conversion, and ROI.