Media Planning & Buying Social Media

Instagram Advertisers Report Early Success

May 19, 2014

Instagram, the digital haven for “food porn” and selfies, is quickly becoming a prized space for advertisers. Now just a few months out of beta, initial brand partners are reporting promising results.

Instagram has grown from an iPhone-only photo-sharing app to become one of the largest players in social media. With an audience of 200 million and the support of Facebook (which purchased the app for $1B in 2012), Instagram debuted its ad offering in late 2013 with a handful of launch partners, including 360i client Ben & Jerry’s.

Following the initial launch, Instagram opened up the offering to a second wave of select advertisers in March, sticking to its promise to respect the community by green-lighting only those brands with the quality visual content and tone needed to seamlessly fit into their model. [Further reading: “5 Best Practices for Creating Ads on Instagram.”]

Ad recall, follower counts spike for early testers

Taco Bell recently shared the success of its promoted Instagram content. When comparing ad recall in a “control” group who was not served a Taco Bell ad to an “exposed” group who did see their ad, Taco Bell reported a 29 percentage point increase. Additionally, during the same month-long campaign, Taco Bell’s Instagram followers increased by 45 percent. Brands like Ben & Jerry’s (sample promoted post below), Hollister and Michael Kors have cited similar progress.

Organic brand posts on Instagram see above average engagement as compared with other social platforms, so it follows that paid advertisements (featuring high-quality content) are performing well, too. According to a Forrester study of user interactions with over 2,500 brand posts, Instagram dominates all other platforms with a 4.21 percent per follower engagement rate. To put that into perspective, Facebook and Twitter trail behind at .07 percent and .03 percent, respectively.

Marketer Implications

While Instagram’s ad offering is still relatively new, the early results coming in indicate that the platform’s commitment to high-quality, premium brand content has been a driving force in its success. Advertisers should strive to create content that is already in-line with what has been successful in their organic posts thus far. Imagery that is already attractive and relevant to targeted users is most likely to encourage engagement.

Instagram ads’ sky-high engagement rates – combined with their ability to attract new followers – make them ideal for branding campaigns. With a huge base of 200 million active users per month and 1.6 billion likes per day, Instagram is an important outlet for paid media.

As Instagram ads become more widely available this year, it is likely that they will become a more common part of paid media plans for brands able to create content befitting of the platform and their audiences there.