After months, some would say years, of expectation, advertising on Instagram is now available to everyone.
Instagram drives massive engagement and just recently reached the following milestone:
- 400 million monthly active users (MAUs), passing Twitter’s 316 million MAUs.
- 3.5 billion daily likes.
- 80 million+ photos shared daily.
According to SproutSocial, Instagram’s demographics are very appealing for advertisers.
- Young, mostly millennials, who spend hours scrawling the feed.
- 53% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram.
- U.S. has 77.6 million or 25% of total overall monthly active users.
- 75% of its users live outside of the States, mainly in Brazil, Japan and Indonesia.
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Advertising on Instagram is now open to everyone. Here’s what you need to know if you want to implement an Instagram advertising campaign:
The 3 Ad Formats
1. Image Ads
Promote an image ad that looks just like the regular feed photo, and includes a call to action of your choice (and indicates ‘Sponsored’).
Michael Kors and Levi's Instagram sponsored photo ads (Click Image To Enlarge)
2. Video Ads
After six months of testing, Instagram's first video ads were launched in October 30, 2014. Instagram's first video ads were 15-second autoplay spots from Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic and CW. The ads will start appearing today and roll out over the coming weeks. For instance, Disney is promoting its film, Big Hero 6, with a video showing animated characters posing as if they were taking selfies.
Click to run the 15-second video ads for Disney's Big Hero 6
Click to run the 15-second video ads for Banana Republic
Changes to Instagram’s advertising policies will increase the length of video ads to 30 seconds in November 2015 from the previous 15, doubling the time in which companies can promote their products. Those same videos will also be appearing in non-square format, too, as the company extends its recent aspect ratio relaxation to ads.
3. Carousel Ads
Following the success of carousel ads in Facebook, Instagram added the carousel format in March 2015 that are designed as a digital analog to the multi-page print magazine spread. Advertisers can include up to four photos that people can swipe through as well as a link to a dedicated landing page. The carousel ad format allows brands to gain more engagement with a good visual storytelling.
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On top of these three great options, there’s a 4th Premium option which is not open to everyone: Marquee. The Marquee “drives mass awareness and expanded reach in a short time-frame”, says the company. This feature is great for time-sensitive events, like launching a product.
Targets to Accomplish with Instagram Ads
Instagram offers four different call-to-action objectives you can achieve using their ads:
- Clicks to Website: leads users to the desired website or landing page with varied call-to-actions like “Learn More”, “Shop Now” or “Sign Up”.
- Mobile App Installs: directs users to install a mobile app through an image or a video ad.
- Video Views: attracts users’ attention through a captivating video.
- Mass Awareness: This one is a Premium option through the Marquee route. It drives mass awareness in a short time frame. Currently not available to everyone.
How Do I Get Started?
To create an Instagram ad you’ll need to use Facebook’s Power Editor.
Funny as it sounds, in order to set up an ad on Instagram you must have a Facebook account even though not necessarily an Instagram account (though it’s recommended).
Want to launch your own Instagram campaign? Here are 6 simple steps you should follow:
1. Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page. Go to your page settings and then to the “Instagram Ads” tab.
2. After confirming the account via email, go to the Power Editor.
3. Choose one of the three objectives offered: Clicks to Website, Mobile App Installs or Video Views.
4. Continue creating the ad just like you would on Facebook, targeting your audience by language, location, and demographics.
5. Choose the CTA: Book now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up or Watch More.
6. Choose your budget and launch the ad with a great image and copy!
Design Tips for your Instagram Ad
- The recommended image ratio is 1:1 with 1080 x 1080 pixels.
- Just like with Facebook ads, an image should not include more than 20% text. Test your image here to check if your text exceeds the limit.
- Instagram recommends keeping the text up to 125 characters. Maximum 300.
- Use hashtags to tag your ad and increase its reach potential beyond the target audience you’ve set.
- Video format needs to be MP4.
- Audio: Instagram recommends Stereo AAC audio compression, 128bps and above.
Instagram’s Biggest Challenge
When Instagram announced its advertising opportunities you could almost hear a sound of relief from brands around the world. Marketers were eager for this piece of news.
Just three years ago Facebook acquired Instagram for $1B, with many questioning that price tag. Today things look completely different. eMarketer estimates that Instagram will bring $595 million in mobile ad revenues in 2015 and $1.48B in 2016.
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The main question is how quickly marketers will adopt this new advertising opportunity and allocate necessary budgets. Marketing opportunities are by all means huge here. With great ad copy and smart targeting, users may think alike.
COMMENTARY: Instagram has over the last two years ventured into video to enrich its storytelling experience rivalling other players like Twitter's Vine. Instagram’s interest in video came from the observation that videos tended to have more engagement than still photos, which was the platform key offering. Lululemon was among the first companies to adopt video on Instagram. However, Instagram noted that Lululemon videos recorded up to 7 times comments than photos and clearly video was the future. The content sharing platform now allows users to shoot edit and share short videos of 15 seconds, which now has been extended to 30 seconds.
Video is shot within the app and is based on 640×640 px dimension, and even has an option of shooting several clips and editing them together. Alternatively, one continuous video can also be shot. Since video is a great format to deliver brand’s narrative to audiences, below are some handy tips on how to leverage Instagram’s power.
- Instagram offers marketers several features including 13 preset filters to edit photos and cinema features available on iOS to stabilize video clips. Videos can be shared on Facebook, Tumblr, or even embedded on brand’s website or blog.
- To create Instagram videos, consider using a mini adjustable tripod holder with a sturdy Smartphone holder. This is especially helpful if you seek to shoot video with your Smartphone. The one disadvantage with this is that the head holding the Smartphone has limited mobility, which can limit scope of your video. Alternatively you can use a cell phone tripod adapter like those for iOS and Samsung, which are portable, slim, and adjustable to fit Smartphone’s. The only difficult with phone tripod adapters is that the phone may wobble, if the head is moved too fast as rubber tabs holding the phone in place can be improperly secured. Other alternatives include the 60 inch tripod stand and Glif cell phone mounts.
With diverse apps available today, images can also be converted into short movies or GIFS using applications like Burstio App available for iOS5/6 & 6Plus. Apple users can also use iMovie 11 to speed up or slow down video frames for emphasis. This lets you share more of your narrative in 15 seconds.
Create Quick Instagram Videos With Instagram's Boomerang App
On October 22, 2015, Instagram launched a new video app called Boomerang, which will produce GIF-style animation clips at the click of a button. Boomerang takes a one-second burst of five photos to create a mini video loop which can be shared to the main Instagram app and Facebook. Boomerang doesn't require users to be logged in, or to even have an Instagram account, according to TechCrunch. The controls are simplistic, one shutter button when you open the app, and another screen to share the looping video you've just created.
Instagram has been reluctant to add new creative features directly into its main app, and instead has been building stand-alone apps. Boomerang is the third stand-alone app from Instagram, following Hyperlapse and Layout.
Boomerang product manager John Barnett told TechCrunch.
"It was something we built just for fun for us to play with as a team."
The app, which was initially built by a group of five people from Instagram's Android team, soon caught on within the company and became a full-fledged product, according to TechCrunch.
The Anatomy of an Awesome Instagram Ad
Bannersnack prepared this wonderful infographic that describes what you need to know to create an awesome Instagram ad. Thanks guys.
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Courtesy of an article dated October 14, 2015 appearing in Klear, an article dated October 30, 2014 appearing in AdWeek, an article dated July 27, 2015 appearing in eMarketer, an article dated September 16, 2015 appearing in Video Advertising News, an article daed April 7, 2015 appearing in Advertising Age, an article dated September 9, 2015 appearing in Gizmodo, and an article dated October 15, 2015 appearing in The Telegraph