What Instagram ad space means for brands

What Instagram ad space means for brands
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Advertisers have been left wondering how they will be able to add value to the 55 million photos created daily on Instagram following the platform’s latest ad space news.

Earlier this week Instagram’s Emily White said the photo-led social platform should be ready to start selling ads within the next year.

Head of digital media at Neo@Ogilvy, MinSun Collier, said it will be interesting to see how Instagram handles the move to monetise given mobile is a “very personal and protected screens for consumers”.

Some categories such as travel and fashion will find integration easier due to their lean towards beautiful photography as will humourous or entertaining brands, but Collier questioned how Instagram would cater for other categories.

“Is Instagram willing to have sponsored features or add-ons such as enhanced filters, editing tools, being able to add music or voiceovers to photos rather than just pushing something in front of users?”

Tony Chilvers, head of interactive strategy at CHE Proximity, said it will be Instagram’s ‘Explore’ area that will feature promoted content.

“I guess the expectation for users is that when browsing through 'Explore' – it's going to be like going through a Facebook newsfeed for example – and we, as users, accept and almost expect that now,” Chilvers said.

“With the Facebook reference in mind, we'll likely start seeing a lot more of the Facebook innovation becoming part of the Instagram platform.”

Hard Hat Digital’s Dan Monheit agreed and said utilising Facebook’s social graph on Instagram “feels like a no brainer”.

But he believes fitting ads into Instagram will be quite a challenge aesthetically.

“Instagram has a certain purity about it with a consistency of posts, no ads, no apps, no external links and none of the other things that have found their way on to the Facebook platform over the last few years,” he explained.

“This means that being respectful of the platform and 'fitting in' with users feeds, while achieving commercial gains, is going to take serious effort for brands and their agencies.”

To be successful Monheit said brands will most likely need a “firm commitment to create content on an ongoing basis”. “Out of place ads will stand out like dogs balls and probably achieve the opposite of what they set out to do.”

Chilvers said the personality that brands have had to develop on Instagram should be maintained and counselled against adapting their content too quickly.

While brands are already active on Instagram and many have successfully built a sizeable following, Monheit believes advertisers will be inclined to speed the process up using paid ads as a shortcut.

“Building interesting content and organically growing a fan base takes time, money and patience. If given the option to speed things up, there will be plenty of brands happy to jump on board.”

Meanwhile, Facebook announced changes to its ad formats.

The update has streamlined image sizes meaning advertisers no longer need multiple image sizes depending on ad placement.

Images sizes are now also larger, Page post link ads will now feature an image that is three-and-a-half times larger than what was previously carried on desktop.

Chilvers said the update was a “sign of the times and a clear indication of how important visual content is becoming for brands”.

“Secondly, one can also start joining the dots in that the Facebook ad strategy seems to be becoming a universal, image and video driven ad platform that covers off their now enormous audience on both Facebook and Instagram.”

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