Post by Dan Malachowski, Marketing Director, and Nonie Carson, Marketing Specialist with insights from Christine Hickey, Senior Media Manager
Instagram recently announced a new ad unit available to select advertisers called carousel ads. A carousel ad hosts four high-quality images that users can swipe through. The final image includes a clickable “Learn More” link which drives to the brand’s website. This product update from Instagram is significant because it’s the first opportunity for advertisers to link outside the social platform, to their own webpages. Instagram is a growing area of interest for brands as it now has more monthly active users than Twitter. With 50% user growth in 2014, the 300 million Instagram audience is largely untapped by advertisers.
Initially, the ads will be branding-focused (e.g. a “Learn More” button vs. a “Buy Now” button), and Instagram will evaluate all ads to ensure they fit within the platform and don’t turn off users. However, on the external landing page, brands can employ more direct-response calls-to-action, as seen with a “Donate Now” button below for the Pencils of Promise charity:
WHAT THIS MEANS for ADVERTISERS
More images combined with the ability to link to an outside product page gives brands new opportunity to engage users and drive conversions:
WISHLIST and PREDICTIONS
Currently, carousel ads are available only to a limited number of advertisers. Because the new product is rolling out on a limited basis, different ad formats are still being tested based on performance and user engagement.
But performance-based, direct response advertisers are hungry for more conversion-focused, highly measurable ad units on social media. Over the past year, we’ve seen the social networks release more ad units aimed at driving direct response actions for advertisers, including:
In the future, we’d love to see additional calls-to-action on Instagram, like a “Buy Now” button, which we think would drive more advertising dollars to the platform. Additionally, Instagram could increase the visibility of the calls-to-action. Currently, users can only click on a product link once they have swiped through the entire ad; this decreases click-through rate as some users will drop off after one or two swipes.
Instagram will need more robust measurement and analytics to track performance for its ad units as more advertisers look to invest in the platform. In order for brands to get a true sense of ad performance, they need additional support to fully measure actions from Instagram users- currently, the photo-sharing platform doesn’t allow 3rd party tags or support their own conversion pixel.
For more info on Instagram carousel ads, please contact your performance account team today.