Instagram Launches UK Ads

This month was finally marked by the announcement that Instagram will make its long awaited foray into advertising for brands in the UK, but is this something that advertisers and, more importantly, users actually want to see?

The announcement follows trials beginning last November in the US, with a number of brands who were already heavily active on the Facebook-owned platform, including Adidas, Burberry and PayPal. Few brands have released any official figures; however a recent campaign for Levi’s reportedly saw a 24 point lift in ad recall, three times the control group.

These campaigns also follow Instagram’s donated media scheme to the non-profit organisation, Charity Water, to help drive awareness of the cause. Although a virtuous project, the campaign encountered its fair share of opposition, with many users complaining about the invasion of sponsored posts and the intrusion it caused on their feed. Herein lies Instagram’s biggest issue.

The platform has taken time to build an audience of more than 200 million users, all interacting with what is a simple mechanic. The simplicity of the platform is balanced with an interface and feed which is almost entirely visual, something where unwanted or disruptive content can be seen all the more emphatically.

Instagram has gone some way in an attempt to appease these complaints. It has given users the opportunity to hide ads they don’t like and provide feedback – much like Facebook when it releases new formats. As more brands are given the opportunity to promote their content to the platform’s huge user base, advertisers will do well to follow Instagram’s guidelines in keeping the content as slick and appealing as possible. Anything that doesn’t fit will almost certainly be pounced upon.

The benefit for advertisers is obvious: the format itself looks native to the feed – albeit with a ‘sponsored’ link – and it offers a great opportunity to promote high-quality, engaging content in an environment where users are used to interacting. As with Facebook, users will become used to the formats, and brands will be able to match their marketing objectives with interest-targeting akin to Facebook’s own product. Whether the targeting and tracking capabilities will come to an alignment remains to be seen, but as another native content platform, it paints a very pretty picture.

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