In a blog post today, Instagram announced the inevitable: The popular mobile and visual social network will begin showing ads over the next few months. In the post, Instagram explained that “We have big ideas for the future, and part of making them happen is building Instagram into a sustainable business.” To that tune, Instagram will “focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.”
For users, this means that the ads will “feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands.” For advertisers and marketers, this doesn’t mean much for you — at least not yet. Instagram will only be working with selected partners for the initial launch, meaning only big brands (with lots of money) will be able to reach Instagram’s very engaged and evangelistic users. This is also likely to ensure the initial ads are high quality and don’t interrupt the user experience.
However, brands should still take note of this upcoming opportunity to advertise on Instagram, especially in light of the trend towards mobile use over desktop. Advertisers undoubtedly have budget to spend on the growing social network, as eMarketer estimates spending on mobile ads will increase 89% globally this year to reach $8.8 billion, up from $4.02 billion last year, and advertisers are expected to spend $9.52 billion on social network ads worldwide this year. With over 150M active users, Instagram offers an entire new platform and demographic for advertisers. Brands interested in expanding their audience should be very attentive to Instagram’s initial advertisers and their success, as there is a massive potential for new levels of ROI and performance.
Of course, Instagram will enable users to opt out of these advertising experiences. The company says that users will always have control and if they see an ad they don’t like, they can hide it and provide feedback about what didn’t feel was right. That said, we don’t expect many users to take advantage this feature. Advertisers should start considering how best to leverage Instagram’s advertising option when it rolls out to engage followers and convert their audience in new and exciting ways.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.