Instagram native ads, after a lengthy trial period, opened up for global access at the beginning of September. And the signs are that the photo driven native advertising it offers is likely to deliver a strong return for mobile marketers.
Pocket Gamer Biz reported that Instagram adverts are producing excellent click through rates, while Digiday reported earlier this month that brands like Taco Bell are seeing impressive returns from adverts run on the platform.
And with e-marketer estimating that advertising revenues on the platform could hit $595m by the end of the year, it’s a channel clearly worth experimenting with.
Here then are our five things that you need to know about Instagram advertising to help you get in on the ground floor of this exciting opportunity.
1. Instagram Native Ads Use Facebook’s Self Serve Options
As many of you will be aware, Instagram and Facebook have been tied together since the latter purchased the former for $1bn. And though there has been little attempt to force Instagram into the Facebook behemoth (aside from account linking and cross app sharing) the good news for advertisers is that Instagram advertising is built upon Facebook’s self service platform.
Why is this so helpful for marketers? First, it means that setting up, optimizing and iterating campaigns for Instagram will work in a near identical way. While the copy will be different, the infrastructure will be the same (though marketers can go directly through Instagram if they haven’t advertised with Facebook before) – making this an easy new field to test.
Second, it also means that the effective targeting options we’ve all used on Facebook will be available to advertisers. Instagram’s audience is smaller than Facebook’s, clocking in at a still credible 400m strong user base, but you will still be able to drill down to find the most effective users when setting up your campaigns through gender, age group, location, interests and more.
2. The Quality Bar for Copy Is Set High – and That’s a Good Thing
In a case study in Venturebeat, one advertiser who used Instagram for a campaign commented on how particular the audience was. After running an advert, he was surprised that commenters under the post were accurately identifying the camera used to take the shot from the image posted.
That’s a microcosm of why Instagram advertisers need to be particularly careful with the design of their adverts. Instagram boasts a dedicated community of photography lovers who really care about the quality of what they see in their feed, meaning advertisers will need to raise the bar to succeed.
So you’ll need to make sure that your copy is visually arresting, impactful and that it meets the high quality expectations of Instagram’s user base and in house content guidelines. Instagram offers some best practices on its website that’ll help you establish where the bar is set, but you’ll also want to ensure you test your copy to hone your efforts further.
3. Advertisers Have More Options than Users
Part of the reason Instagram has remained such a high quality platform has been the refusal to dilute the post types on the site. Although the company allows videos and has unbundled an app to allow users to create framed photos, Instagram remains principally about the square photo and filter combo that has defined it since it has started.
Advertisers will have a little extra leeway to allow them to create great copy. Marketers can link directly from a post to something else, whether it’s an app install link, a shop or to a website. This, crucially, isn’t available to anyone else, giving a key advantage to advertisers.
But the benefits don’t end there. They can also create a sliding carousel of five images, which users can slide through, and benefit from 30 second long videos (users can only create 15 second long clips in comparison).
This won’t just give an advertiser an advantage over a non-paying competitor then. It’ll also give advertisers who use Instagram’s official solution an advantage over those purchasing advertising indirectly through influencers, which is frowned upon by the service.
4. A Younger, Women Oriented Demographic
Facebook has faced the accusation that its demographic is ageing for some time now. But this ignores the fact that it does own a product that really does appeal to younger users.
And that app is Instagram. According to Sprout Social, 53% of Instagram users are 18-29, with a further 25% aged between 30 and 49. But beyond that, Instagram also boasts more women in its user base than men, with 29% of women online using the app compared to 23% of men, and over 50% of its user base lives in urban or suburban areas.
This is important for marketers for two reasons. First, marketers need to consider whether a product is actually right for this audience – especially hard core games who often spend heavily on acquisition.
And second, if marketers do consider using the solution, those creating the copy need to work harder to appeal to this younger demographic. Although marketers can still target the 20% of users over the age of 50, for most marketers Instagram success will rely on appealing to younger users.
5. Instagram Native Ads Are Expensive, but Worth It
Finally, it’s important to note that the cost of Instagram advertising looks to be high. In the report from PG Biz we highlighted earlier, they suggest that the CPI for Instagram advertising for a game is $4.17 – nearly $2 more than the CPI average.
However, when you look at the effective CPM of Instagram advertising versus other forms of advertising, it only comes out as a dollar more expensive for marketers. This suggests that Instagram is, even in these early days, impressively cost effective.
And that’s because great quality adverts are driving engagement. In a report released by Salesforce in August 2015, they noted precisely that from 12 of their clients using the platform. Not only do users apparently engage with Instagram adverts from a performance point of view, they also drive other interactions organically through the platform too.
Instagram advertising may look expensive then, but the early indicators are that it could be a really worthwhile native option for mobile advertisers.
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