Money tends to flow to money and not quite content with $7 billion in revenue (in Q3 2016) we will see yet more advertising on Instagram & Facebook.
Instagram announced January 12 its still relatively new Stories feature, the ephemeral competition to Snapchat, now has rivaled Snapchat with 150 million daily users and, well by golly, that means it’s time to start inserting ads into the disappearing video selfie stream.
That doesn’t mean everyday Instagram Stories users will be able to run ads – not yet, anyway. Only a select few big-business clients will be able to post ads in between Instagram Stories. But, of course, all viewers will be able to see the ads as they move from one post to the next – before they all disappear.
“To unveil this first-ever, full screen ad to Instagram Stories, and create the most impact for businesses and Instagrammers alike, we’ll test with 30+ clients around the world, including: Capital One, Buick, Maybelline New York, Nike, Yoox, Netflix, and Qantas,” explained the Instagram business blog. “With roughly 70% of watched stories being sound-on, this immersive, full screen nature creates an intimacy with people like never before.”
For businesses and organizations who’ve converted Instagram accounts to business Instagram accounts, the image-sharing social network will roll out over the next few weeks the same kind of analytics it provides for standard Insta-posts.
“You’ll be able to see the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story within Business Tools,” says Instagram. “By viewing these insights, you can learn how to create more relevant content that resonates with your audience.
“The launch of this ad format, with its sophisticated back-end to target, measure and report performance, is unmatched in a stories experience today. While we’re just getting started with ads in stories, we’re excited to launch even more ways to help you achieve your business needs in the future.”
Ads inserted in Facebook videos
And all this comes as reports surface from Facebook – no doubt “leaked” to digital news organizations as a way of running the idea up the ol’ metaphorical flagpole to check the wind direction – that it may soon start inserting ads smack in the middle of videos posted to the social network behemoth.
“Industry sources say the social network is going to start testing a new ‘mid-roll’ ad format, which will give video publishers the chance to insert ads into their clips after people have watched them for at least 20 seconds,” reports Recode.
“For now, Facebook will sell the ads and share the revenue with publishers, giving them 55 percent of all sales. That’s the same split offered by YouTube, which dominates the online video ad business.
“If the new ads take off, they could represent the first chance many video publishers have had to make real money from the stuff they’ve been running on Facebook.”
New ads make Instagram more useful?
They certainly have that potential for Instagram and parent Facebook – and for the initial handful of advertisers chosen to begin the project.
But for the mass of millions of other everyday digital marketeers? Well, maybe not yet anyway.
For the rest of us, we’ll have to continue to be content with the Instagram tool box as it’s been for quite a while – which is useful, make no mistake about that.
Instagram offered a glimmer of hope for a deeper overall marketing experience in November when it announced it would start allowing live links in some Instagram posts – again, for a select few. The links are only for verified accounts and what viewers see is a bar across the bottom of a post which reads, “see more.” User click on the bar to be taken to a landing page.
One of the few drawbacks to the otherwise very useful and engaging platform is the inability to post a live link to a website landing page within the image sharing app itself. You can post links and they become live links when shared simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Swarm (Foursquare), Flickr – even VKontakte, Ambeba & OK.ru. But they remain useless as live links on the Instagram app itself. Such a wasted opportunity.
Also in November, Instagram added the ability to mention others in Instagram Stories, incorporate it’s fun little GIF app, Boomerang into Stories and, in an even bigger advancement which hasn’t gotten much buzz (for some unknown reason), introduced direct shopping through Instagram.
Please make Instagram more useful for everyday digital marketeers
But – once again – Instagram could make some even better, relatively simple advancements and become truly among the very most effective social networks for digital marketing.
Posting a photo or video to Instagram creates all kinds of opportunities to be creative. Users can let their inner artist run wild. It’s cross-platform opportunities are signficant, too. An Instagram post can immediately also be posted to Facebook (of course), Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Swarm (Foursquare) and with just a touch more effort (manually) to even more networks (GooglePlus, Pinterest for example).
One really big – and seemingly simple – enhancement would be to make added web links live within the regular app.
Oh sure, web links can be added to Instagram posts (along with your million hashtags) but they aren’t live within the app. They do become live links when one shares the same Instagram post to the other networks. But they remain simply a dead bunch of shortlink jumbled characters within the Instagram app itself.
The network took a huge leap forward in 2015 when it added to its app the ability to switch back and forth between accounts within the app.
A few more simple tweaks would be useful, too.
And how about resharing, reposting friends’ photos within the app? Would that be so hard? You can, of course, repost your friends’ photos but you need a separate app for that. Seems silly not to have resharing within the Instagram app itself.
Okay, and while you’re at it, what would be so wrong with making your web client a little more useful? Would it be so bad, as an example, if users could upload photos of videos (even YouTube videos) to the web client? Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, would this shift the polar dynamics of the earth?