Written by Ivy Kolpon
Edited by Sarah Mejia
As if ads have not already taken over our lives, a new medium will be offering advertising soon – Instagram. Starting as a free app in 2010, Instagram’s mission has been “to capture and share the world’s moments.” Instagram has gained more than 150 million monthly active users to date. Emily White, Instagram’s new COO, hopes to change the app’s business model to turn a profit and take advantage of its large user base.
Many companies are already active users of the newest social media platform. However, they do not use it for advertising; they use the platform to enhance their existing marketing campaigns. Companies use the app freely to create and post viral photos and videos. The addition of advertising to this medium will benefit both Instagram and its advertisers. Instagram has not made a cent since its launch in 2010, and the introduction of advertising will allow the company to make money. Although companies previously using Instagram for free will now have to pay, the advertisers will be able to target one of the most hard-to-reach audiences and receive success metrics such as reach or efficacy of content.
Advertisers try to capture the attention of millenials on different media. However, millenials are always on the go and want to see content whenever and wherever they want. Growing up during the digital era, technology is integrated into every part of their lives – they know its ins and outs and the best ways to bypass advertising. With innovations like Netflix, DVR and other streaming services, it is no surprise that advertisers need to develop new ways to reach this audience.
While the new advertisements will benefit Instagram and the advertisers, whether the customer will benefit is debatable. A little under a year ago, Instagram changed its terms of service allowing user content to be turned into ads. After intense backlash, Instagram revoked the change.
Advertising on Instagram can benefit all parties if done properly. While Facebook advertises using standard banner ads, Buzzfeed has been dominating native advertising by creating original content to pair with their clients’ advertisements. It “creates ROI based on the shareability of its content, which carries the brand message” (Zaleski). Buzzfeed claims to reach 5 million to 15 million users per campaign. Because the advertising is placed within original content, some users may not even realize a particular brand is paying for advertising space. Twitter, another social media channel, has also been successful with their advertisements. Twitter allows advertisers to create “Promoted Tweets” that show up on users’ newsfeeds alongside other tweets. Users can engage with the “Promoted Tweets” by retweeting, replying, or favoriting the tweet just like they can with any other tweet from those that they follow. Twitter claims that these “Promoted Tweets” drive stronger message association, brand favorability and purchase intent based on metrics. If Instagram can make their advertising model similar to those of Buzzfeed and Twitter, where the advertisements blend in with normal content, Instagram may become a popular tool for advertisers to use.
There have been some rumors that Instagram will feature advertisements on the “Explore” tab where users can view popular Instagram photos or videos. Whether these rumors are true or not, and whether Instagram will successfully integrate advertising into their app with no backlash, is unclear. We will just have to wait and see.
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