Instagram, the Facebook-owned app with more than 2 million active advertisers, is testing a carousel format for ads that can include three photos or videos in the same post instead of one. Twelve brands including California Pizza Kitchen, Netflix and Paramount are trying out the new format called “carousel ads for Instagram Stories,” per Marketing Land.
Susan Rose, Instagram’s director of product marketing, said the company doesn’t have a scheduled date for making the carousel ads available to self-serve advertisers. It will open up the new format to brands that buy ads through automated ad-buying services in the Facebook Marketing Partners program. The maximum length of each post in a Story ad is unchanged, with a 15-second limit on videos while photos can stay on screen for five seconds.
Instagram Stories also added a feature called “Type Mode” that lets users create posts with text instead of pictures or video. The text can be transformed with different fonts, colors and backgrounds before posting in the app. The posts disappear after 24 hours.
Carousel ad formats, which take advantage of the popularity of swiping as action on smartphones, have been successful for Facebook’s News Feed and Instagram, making an expansion into Instagram Stories an almost foregone conclusion. Tripling the capacity for images in a Stories ad gives brands greater creative freedom in their campaigns instead of requiring marketers to squeeze their message into one 15-second video. That means an advertiser can show a sequence of three 15-second videos that maintain a narrative or lead to a call to action.
A fashion brand, as one example, could show a video of a model wearing an outfit or accessory to hook a shopper into swiping through to see more detailed images and information. That could then lead to a third page that’s linked to an e-commerce site to make a purchase. The ad format isn’t intended to be too intrusive, which would degrade the experience for people who don’t want to be bombarded with ads while they check Instagram feeds. Users will still be able to swipe past the ad to skip it.
Facebook is making an effort to improve the user experience by emphasizing “meaningful social interactions” on its platform, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on its conference call with investors this week. The shift means less emphasis on passive video watching, and a greater focus on getting people addicted to seeking dopamine-inducing social affirmation from friends, family and colleagues. However, the exec acknowledged the new focus will lead to less time spent and less engagement in News Feed. Expanding the availability carousel ads is one way Facebook can help brands try to support engagement levels.