Picture Perfect Advertising: Is Advertising on Instagram Worth It?

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Some companies feel that Instagram should not be a part of their marketing strategy. Find out what you could be missing out on.

Instagram is one of the leading social media platforms for image-based content. We know that. However, what people don’t always think about is whether it can be used as a viable advertising platform.

Engagement rates are high, as Forrester states that the 4.21 percent engagement rate makes Instagram the king of social media. That’s incredible, and this reason, along with others, makes this an advertising platform you have to begin considering.

Related Article: Pin It to Win It: The Do's and Don'ts of Advertising On Pinterest

How Does Advertising Work on Instagram?

Instagram advertising is simple to spot. At the top of each sponsored image, it will have the word ‘Sponsored’. It’s clearly visible and these ads are targeted based on your interests. In many ways, it works in exactly the same way as Facebook.

Instagram ads have been running for a year. In countries like the UK, only larger corporations like McDonald’s and John Lewis were able to access ads. The USA is currently leading the way in regards to who can post ads on Instagram.

The one drawback of advertising on Instagram is phone advertising. For unknown reasons, Instagram disables links on phones. When over 50 percent of people now access social media exclusively from mobile devices, this is unacceptable in its current form.

Targeting on Instagram

It’s clear how Instagram has decided to work its ad platform. They allow you to target your audience in the same way as Facebook ads. You complete your targeting based on certain traits. Some of these traits may include:

  • Gender
  • Age group
  • Interests

Instagram doesn’t have the same detailed information on its users that Facebook has. Nevertheless, this isn’t a problem because Instagram and Facebook are run by the same company. It’s possible to gain information on Instagram by associating users with their Facebook account.

To make these ads work you have to link both your Instagram and Facebook accounts together.

Related Article: Full-Filter Branding: Instagram for Business and Carousel Advertising

The John Lewis Campaign

Before considering Instagram for advertising, you need to look at the leading lights to understand whether it’s possible to make this work.

Clothing retailer John Lewis launched a campaign where they targeted females between the ages of 25 and 34. Their goal was to inform users about their autumn/winter fashion collections. The campaign would last for six weeks and they would work with a number of top fashion bloggers in Britain.

John Lewis Campaign

Image via Instagram

What were the results of the campaign?

According to Instagram, John Lewis increased the number of followers it had by 10,000. The brand also saw 14 times the amount of purchasing intent for women within their chosen age range. It led to them extending their campaign into a quarterly campaign.

The Channel 4 Campaign

Channel 4 is one of the primary TV channels within the UK. In 2014, Channel 4 unleashed its series of original programming named Gogglebox. It wanted to use Instagram to promote its show, particularly to males and females within the 16-34 age range.

Channel 4 Campaign

Image via Instagram

This campaign ran for three weeks from October 2014 to November 2014. Channel 4 decided to use photo content exclusively. They developed images to match the personalities of the various characters in the show. They wanted to increase engagement, so they asked users to guess which character the photos were related to.

The campaign reached 750,000 people and ad recall increased by 19 points. It allowed them to target the younger market, who’re more likely to watch Channel 4 than the other UK terrestrial TV channels.

Other Successes

Instagram Ads are only available in eight other countries, including America, Australia and Canada. Other brands have seen similar successes with these ads, such as McDonald’s and L’Oreal. Many of these brands would go on to announce, via Instagram’s website, that Instagram offered them better returns than Facebook and Twitter.

Of the 475 beta campaigns launched on Instagram’s web platform, ad recall for sponsored images was 2.9 times higher than the standard level, based on Nielsen’s average for online advertising.

We can firmly establish Instagram has superior engagement rates and a better ad recall than all of the other major social media platforms.

Fast Facts that Prove Instagram is Worth It

Based on an image from Bright Yellow Creative, we can establish that Instagram ads are worth it. Here are some useful facts for you to consider:

Bright Yellow Creative; Instagram Statistics

  • 300 million active users to target.
  • 70 percent of users are outside the US.
  • 30 billion photos have been shared on Instagram.
  • 2.5 billion ‘likes’ issued daily.
  • 70 million images are updated every day.

Do People Pay Attention?

It’s pointless looking into ads if people are numb to them. Millennials are amongst the most difficult people to reach using ads. There are three types of thoughts that appeared when ads were initially introduced from this audience:

  1. This goes against everything Instagram stands for.
  2. People are concerned ads will disrupt their feeds.
  3. Some users didn’t mind the advertising at all.

To illustrate these thoughts, The Guardian discovered that most people hadn’t noticed ads cluttering up their feeds. This accomplished the primary goal of ads not becoming noticeable to users. Everything remains organic.

What we learned from the newspaper’s investigations is that those users who don’t respond to ads simply don’t notice them. They have become numb to ads on social media. More importantly for businesses is the fact that Instagram’s high engagement rates demonstrate users aren’t distinguishing between user-generated content and business-generated content.

So is Instagram Advertising Worth It?

What we now know is that Instagram advertising is worth it. When done right, the potential benefits are unparalleled. However, what people must take into account is the fact that this requires you to know your target audience and how to reach them.

It’s so important that you create images your target audience is going to respond to. The only way to do this is research, along with trial and error.

Instagram advertising is never guaranteed, but any business in any industry can make this work.

*image via iDownloadBlog.com

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