Instagram Turns Up The Volume On Its Ad Plans

In the coming months, the visual social network will open ad buying to more businesses and enable Facebook targeting. It also is adding new direct response ads.

Instagram is hitting the accelerator on its famously slow-speed advertising chase.

Today, the Facebook-owned social network announced that after a year and a half of testing, it’s ready to shift gears. In the coming months it will start selling advertising to any business and allow advertisers to use Facebook targeting to hone in on consumers. In the coming days, it will start testing new direct response ad formats that will include links to Shop Now, Install Now, Learn More or Sign Up. This follows recent testing of a carousel ad format that for the first time gave advertisers the ability to link to third-party websites from Instagram posts.


This flurry of activity is a big change for Instagram, which has been ultra careful about how it serves ads to its users. Since being acquired by deep pocketed Facebook in 2012, the network hasn’t been under much pressure to monetize, so it moved cautiously with advertising. Even so there was some anti-ad backlash, which likely made the company more gun-shy and perhaps led to co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom’s personally reviewing all ads to make sure they don’t look too much like ads.

The special attention — making Instagram ads feel like native content — has made them very effective, according to the company: “Across more than 475 campaigns measured globally with Nielsen Brand Effect, ad recall from sponsored posts on Instagram was 2.9x higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising.”

Up to now, Instagram ad buys have been made by major brands, but this move will make them widely available. The company said it will offer ads through the Facebook ad buying platform and an Instagram API in the coming months. Ads will also be available though a select group of Facebook marketing partners and agencies.

Read more in on the Instagram for business blog.

About The Author

Martin Beck is Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, covering the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

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