Instagram Trying Something New With Ads, And It Appears To Be Working

Like everyone that’s trying to make a living in the online world, Instagram is trying to crack the tough nut of monetizing its free service, but the social image-sharing site may just have figured out a solution.

Many sites, such as Google, rely on ad clicks, as well as actions such as “likes”, and comments to calculate reach and the value of a given ad, banner, or campaign, but Instagram is trying something a little different. It’s looking at metrics that include reach, ad recall, and awareness, and after a small and gentle rollout of ads in users’ feeds starting November 1st, the results are promising.

Facebook-owned Instagram said in a blog post that after completing four initial campaigns on Instagram, the four companies (including Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s) achieved sufficient “broad reach” and landed a high impact relative to a low frequency of ad impressions per user. There was a 32-point increase in ad recall and a 10-point boost in brand message awareness per campaign for those who were exposed to a particular campaign compared to numbers culled from a control group.

Instagram ads Ben & Jerry's   Instagram ads Levi's

For example, of those exposed to a single ad for Ben & Jerry’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream, 17% were aware of the flavor (which sounds tremendous, by the way) and also associated it with the Ben & Jerry’s brand.

What all this means is that instead of living and dying based on specific user actions, Instagram and the brands plugging their wares on the site are more interested in the kind of metrics that are used for traditional advertising such as TV, radio, and magazines.

That’s a subtle shift, but it’s refreshing. Further, Instagram is pushing marketers to create better-looking, more engaging, and more enjoyable ads, so even though you’ll most certainly be seeing more ads in your Instagram feed, they may be significantly less annoying than you might think. And Instagram may be pioneering (or would you call it reverse-pioneering?) a better way to do advertising online.