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In Advertising
Social Media

By Phil Murphy

Instagrams API & Advertising Update

On 18, Jun 2015 | No Comments | In Advertising, Blog, Social Media | By Phil Murphy

I personally love Instagram, and would be happy if it were ad free forever, but my inner marketer screams about all of the advertising opportunities on the platform. Instagram is one of the largest social networks and has a massive amount of daily users. With over 300 million monthly active users, over 70 million daily photos, and over 2.5 billion daily likes, they generate huge amounts of content and activity every day. While Instagram has a huge potential for advertisers and ad revenue, it hasn’t been open to most, until now. Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, and since then they’ve done a lot with the platform including the addition of trialing ads in 2013, but only for major advertisers, like L’Oreal and Disney. Now they’re opening up advertising to companies everywhere with a new API that will allow you to set up ads and track them, as well as create direct sales links in ads. While the API will only be available to select Facebook Marketing Partners at first, there are plans to open it up to everyone at a later date.

Instagram first conducted over 475 beta campaigns, which produced an unusually high ad recall, with higher ROI and click through rates on the sponsored posts. In fact, this averaged about 2.9 times better than the standard ad performance on the web. In one example, Mercedes-Benz boosted site visits by some 580% with a combined Facebook and Instagram ad campaign. Brands like Chobani, Levi’s, and Taco Bell also showed increases in ad recall when using the beta program. Instagram will also be integrating with Facebook’s own ad interface, which means that anyone already using ads on Facebook can easily add them to Instagram, and that you’ll be able to run cross campaigns on both platforms.

New Ad Format

Facebook is currently using two main ad formats but they’ve also introduced a third. These include the photo ad, the video ad, and the carousel ad. The last is the new option and allows you to post a slideshow of photos that users can choose to scroll through, or not. This makes it less intrusive than an autoplay slideshow like a video, where users can see one or all photos, but not just a few. It will also allow you to advertise multiple photos of the same products, with direct links to click through to a shop. This opens Instagram’s advertising up to a wide variety of different businesses, because it has the potential for creating direct sales, rather than only creating hype or ad recall. Users can swipe left to see additional photos, which, according to Instagram, is perfect for showing different looks from a fashion product, or showing different features on larger products, like a car or computer.

Ads will also get direct response calls to action that open in an in-app web browser, Like signup on a website, buy a product, download an app etc. This means that you can direct people from the ad right to your website to make a purchase or to download your app.


Instagram’s new targeting API allows you to target based on demographic and interests, with options for location, as well as options to integrate Facebook data for those who have their accounts connected. For those who don’t, interests are based on the accounts they follow, which allows you to target your ad to people most likely to use your product. You’ll also be able to retarget customers and newsletter subscribers by adding their email addresses to the API.

Ad Guidelines

Because Instagram ads integrate directly into the Instagram feed, you don’t necessarily need professional photos to make them work. However, you do want high quality, and you will have to agree to commercial usage rights for you photo if you are taking them yourself. This benefits smaller businesses because it means that you can set up ads quickly and most importantly, affordably. Because the ads integrate directly into the user’s feed, they also look less like spam and more like content.

Instagram’s new API has a lot to offer for businesses of all shapes and sizes, especially considering that they are adding new ways to target users. Nielsen, a market research agency, claims that Instagram’s ads are already somewhere around 3 times more effective than ads in other spaces, which is impressive on its own. While Instagram currently only runs ads in four countries, including the UK, that is likely to change as they roll out their new API.


Image creative commons: rosenblut360

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