Tread Carefully With Instagram Ads Experts Warn

Tread Carefully With Instagram Ads Experts Warn

Instagram Australia has rolled out video advertising, however Tim Evans, strategy director at creative tech agency DT, questions whether you’d want to be the first brand on a platform that was ad-free just a few years ago.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

“What is the benefit of being the first advertiser on a previously ad-free platform? It’s like introducing a new tax,” he told B&T. “I’ve only seen ire from users who view the ads as invasive and unwelcome. I can only assume the advertisers get cheaper ad rates in perpetuity. There’s likely to be a few creatively brilliant outliers, but I believe this might be one of those ‘last-mover advantage’ scenarios.”

Carly Yanco, senior planner at JWT Sydney also suggests there will be some resistance from users, “especially when it comes to popular platforms like Instagram where people initially enjoyed an ad-free-zone”.

“In this case, people are already familiar with sponsored ads on Instagram and with the video format, as opposed to the Carousel ads, which were also recently announced. So while some backlash is likely, brands should be more considerate of audience reactions to the content itself rather than the ad format.”

The video ad offering though is different to the native ads already available on the platform, says an Instagram spokesperson.

“The whole ethos of Instagram is a place to capture and share the world’s moments, whether that’s still or whether that’s video. We’ve been testing Instagram and launched organic, or native, videos that the community has already been using, so it just made perfect sense to also introduce this for brands to be able to use as well.”

There’s currently no news on when Carousel ads will launch in Australia, however the spokesperson is “definitely sure they’re coming”.

Jane Clinch, digital director at Vizeum Sydney, however believes video ads can be annoying for some.  “I think the reality is that video ads will irritate some users,” she says. “There was negative feedback from images alone, although we did see this was more directed at the platform itself rather than the advertisers. Video can be seen as even more intrusive, and harder for brands to ‘nail’ in terms of the right content.”

Still, Sarah James, head of digital at Carat Australia and New Zealand, believes it might not be so bad.

“If we look at Facebook video ads as a comparison, my thoughts are that they will be well received as long as the content is fit for the platform,” she says.

Four brands have already signed up to try the video ads – McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Qantas and Tourism New Zealand – with more expected in the coming weeks.

Qantas is using the platform for an extension of its ‘Feels Like Home’ campaign that launched in November 2014. The ‘Flying Kangaroo’ launched its first phase of the Instagram version in December last year. Phase one of the campaign has seen a 30 point lift in ad recall, said Olivia Wirth, group executive brand marketing and corporate affairs. “This is five times the Nielson industry norm.” Association between Qantas and the feeling of home also rose by four points, so Qantas is feeling pretty chuffed. Here’s hoping the video ad phase finds some equally satisfying results.

“We launched the Instagram (IG) Video phase of the ‘Feels Like Home’ campaign on Sunday March 1 with two 15 sec videos which feature Qantas customers reuniting with their families and friends at the arrivals hall of Sydney airport,” explained Wirth.

Tourism New Zealand is another airline keen to be using the social media site. “Video is an extension of Instagram’s still image advertising and offers the same visual, immersive quality as photo ads on Instagram, but gives us the added ability to easily show how close the range of experiences are, which makes a New Zealand holiday so appealing,” said Andrew Fraser, director of marketing at Tourism New Zealand.

Like Qantas, Fraser says they are already seeing promising results from the campaigns.

In the early days of rolling out this new offering, Instagram maintains users should see no more than one sponsored post per day.

And these posts should be created specifically for the platform. Regular TVCs may not fit so well, especially as the ad space is a maximum of 15 seconds long.

“We can’t just place a TVC in this environment. Instagram is a ‘lean back’ experience so the content must be engaging,” says Carat’s James.

JWT’s Yanco also adds Instagram is not the place for heavy-branded content. “Instagram was careful to introduce creative guidelines with their photo ads in the past to make sure brands were thinking about the context of the platform,” she says. “They’ve put less emphasis on this with the video ads so the onus is much more on the brands to get it right if they want to be successful.”

Vizeum’s Clinch says creative is key to success on the platform. “I definitely think when brands get it right, it will be a great way to drive brand awareness and reach.”

The Instagram spokesperson also adds: “It’s got to feel as though it’s part of the community and native to Instagram. It can’t be jarring.

“There’s a really high bar set for creative on Instagram, which is great.”