Why We Love Advertising on Instagram, and How to Get Started

We are big fans of advertising on Instagram. We also think the platform is highly underrated and frequently overlooked. Here are 3 reasons why you should give Instagram a chance:

1: Out with the Old and In with the New

Photo from AgoraPulse

The older social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook are clearly waning in popularity. Twitter has struggled with user growth for years (see: 1, 2, 3, 4). Facebook, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming a baby boomer hangout.

This means millennials are beginning to divert their attention elsewhere. According to Pew, 55% of all 18–29-year-olds in the United States are on Instagram. At Search & Gather, we tend to look at Instagram first if our client wants to target younger audiences.

We aren’t the only fans of Instagram. On March 22, 2017, Instagram announced that they reached over 1 million monthly active advertisers. Additionally, eMarketer predicts over 70.7% of companies with more than 100 employees will advertise on Instagram in 2017.

2: Instagram is the King of Native Ads

Native advertising — a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

Instagram is really the only social platform that has managed to make their ads appear organic and comfortably streamlined into users’ feeds. It’s no secret at this point that native ads are the future of advertising. Mobile Marketing Association finds users spend 40% more time engaging with native ads and have twice the brand recall.

Grace Regan on The Guardian found that many people didn’t even notice the launch of Instagram ads. It’s easy to see why — they look like regular posts, and are not at all invasive. Also, user engagement on corporate content is so high it shows users don’t distinguish them from user generated content.

Forrester states users are 58x more likely to engage with brands on Instagram than Facebook, and 120x more likely than Twitter. It is clear that Instagram is winning the native ad game.

3: All of Facebook’s Data, Without the Bore of Being Facebook

What Facebook collects outside of its website by the Wall Street Journal.

We find targeting on Instagram to be pretty accurate. This is largely thanks to Facebook owning Instagram. Users who connect their Facebook accounts with Instagram provide all of that data to Instagram’s targeting. Of course, basic demographics such as gender, age, and interests (based on photos you like or accounts you follow), make for pretty decent targeting on its own.

You can learn more about Facebook Audience Targeting options here.

In our experience with advertising on Instagram, we get really great results from our more experimental and eccentric campaigns. In comparison, new advertisers on Facebook will be surprised to learn how negative users can be in both sponsored and organic posts. They can spark political debates, declare hate crimes, and threaten other users all in the comment section of your Facebook ad.

We suspect that Instagram’s heavy focus on aesthetically pleasing images, over anything else, does a good job of reducing the number of trolls and angry people on your content. This allows us to use more creativity and have a lot more fun with our ads.


The Future of Advertising on Instagram?

Instagram Shopping Tags

“Instagram and Warby Parker share a similar appreciation for beautiful design and seamless experiences. But right now, there isn’t a simple, clean way for us to share details about the products featured within our posts. Customers often have to ask us, which creates a bulky experience on both sides. We love how seamlessly integrated and consumer-centric this new experience is,”

- Dave Gilboa, co-founder of Warby Parker.

Like any good tech company, Instagram is always cooking up new ideas to monetize their growing legion of users. Instagram began testing Shopping Tags in the United States since November 2016. On March 21, 2017, Instragram announced they are beginning to roll out Shopping Tags to thousands of new businesses across the United States. This is exciting news for us as Instagram is becoming a serious player in the eCommerce game.

Example of Instagram Shopping

In short, Instagram Shopping Tags allow brands to make the products in their sponsored photos clickable. From there, the user can learn details about the product (price, description, etc.). Finally, they can either visit the brand’s website or return to their Instagram feed. You can read about Instagram Shopping in detail here.

Instagram Stories Ads

Example of an Instagram Story by The New Yorker.

In March of 2017, Instagram announced they were making Instagram Stories ads available globally. Instagram Stories, which is basically a clone of Snapchat stories, is a full-screen video or image that only lasts a few seconds. Stories automatically show one after another, and Stories ads play in between. We are interested to see if users find these ads as streamlined and non-intrusive as the regular feed advertisements.


So How Do I Get Started on Instagram?

If you haven’t set up an Instagram profile yet, you can check out this cheat sheet by Social Media Today:

For getting started with ads, the easiest option is to test out your highest performing Facebook ads on Instagram using the Facebook Business Manager. In general, some tips to keep in mind with Instagram specifically are:

  • Maximize your surface area by using square images.
  • You can include some text on your images, but try to keep it around 20% to avoid penalties.
  • Quirky and eccentric photos that grab attention tend to do well.
  • Include a clear call-to-action.

We hope that you try advertising on Instagram. Let us know how you think it compares to other platforms!


Need help advertising on Instagram? Search & Gather is a digital marketing agency that specializes in PPC. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for affordable help with Paid Search, Paid Social, or Online Conversion.

Feature photo originally by WeRSM.

Originally published at searchandgather.co on April 11, 2017.