As you may have heard, Instagram is opening its photo feed to advertisers. By the end of this year, businesses big and small will be able to buy ad space on the app and also be able to target by age, interest, gender, and other factors. The announcement is just one small step in Instagram's greater commercialization. Like other networks before it, the app is opening its purse to ensure its continued growth.
Perhaps this represents a risky move. By inviting all advertisers to upload original content to the feed, we can't predict what we'll get. Instagram is known as a repository for beautiful images--cats curled up in sunlit corners, mimosa-sipping 20-somethings at brunch, freshly mowed lawns--and one hesitates at the thought of ugly ads corrupting this "pure" space. Let's take a look at the different types of ads Instagram will be making available to brands and see some strategies for using them well.
Ride the Carousel
Three months ago Instagram introduced "Carousel Ads," which are multiple images packaged into one post, accessible one after the other as the user swipes. They are great opportunities for brands to tell stories. A food blog, for example, could use one to show the step-by-step process for making a recipe. A tech company could use them to display the exciting features of a new product. See below for brands AdAge recently named as the first to use these ads in interesting ways.
Samsung Galaxy shows off what its camera can do:
Old Navy heads to the beach for the day:
Among other promises in Instagram's new advertising package are ads with click-through buttons ("Sign Up," "Shop Now," "Install Now") that will give brands the opportunity to sell their products directly on Instagram. This does not mean permission to photograph a product against a plain white background as if it were evidence for a crime. See below for examples of how brands are working with Instagram's homey, relaxing style:
Create Your Own Campaign
If these advertising options are too much like...ads, think about doing a clever, visual series of your own. Use hashtags to build a series of images that relate to a theme, or think about how you can incorporate visual hooks into your photos. Does your business have a mascot? What about a tradition? Give your users a reason to expect something fun for your channel, and you'll have them coming back for more original content that works like an ad for your brand without advertising explicitly. See Oreo's recent summer landscapes, built from Oreos!