After YouTube and Pinterest, Instagram is the latest social network that is enabling shopping from within its app. In a latest announcement, the Facebook owned photo and video sharing network is providing advertisers powerful tools that include action-oriented formats, enabling more targeting capabilities, and making it easier for businesses large and small to buy ads on Instagram. This also includes the introduction of “Shop Now”, “Install Now”, and “Sign up” buttons.
Over the last year and half, Instagram has worked aggressively in eight countries, helping brands and agencies achieve their branding objectives. Recent being the introduction of the Carousel ads and its push to different geographies beyond US. Till now Instagram ad offerings focused more on brand building but from now on it would be also about action-oriented advertisement.
The biggest change on the platform comes in the form of “action-oriented” buttons that appear below an image. These buttons could be an option to buy a product, install an app or sign up for a service. These new buttons build upon the multi-photo carousel ads that Instagram unveiled earlier this year.
While these are action oriented features, the workout happens in the app itself. For example if you want to purchase a product, on click a new mini browser would open up in the app to complete your action, so once you’re done buying or downloading you’ll be returned to Instagram.
“Instagram is not an index or collection of the web where syndicated links matter, it’s about photos people take. You’re not retweeting, regramming, or passing a link on,” Global Head of Business and Brand Development James Quarles tells TC. “In these cases where there are businesses…we think that it’s a very lightweight experience to go into an in-app browser…and then come back to the app. We’re staying true to the values of simplicity.”
Providing the ability to shop on Instagram isn’t a surprising move since Instagram over the time had been working closely with a few influential brands to make shopping a one click experience on its platform. For instance, Banana Republic was one of the retailer who could link to product pages from their Instagram ads.
It was the first time a retailer was able to send consumers directly to where they could buy products they saw in an Instagram ad. “We’ve been thrilled with all the features we’ve been participating in and plan to continue using the new tools as they become available,” said Banana Republic’s head of customer experience Aimee Lapic.
On hindsight the latest actionable buttons are the evolution of the “Learn More” buttons that Instagram had introduced along with Carousel ads.
Later this year, advertisers will have the ability to connect businesses to the right people through expanded targeting options with the help of Facebook too. “Working with Facebook, we will enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers. We will also improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see.”
Additionally, Instagram is opening up its advertisement for all businesses large and small. Instagram is working to make its advertising available through Instagram Ads API and integrating with Facebook ad buying interfaces over the coming months.
To begin with the Instagram Ads API would be opened up for a selected group of Facebook Marketing Partners and agencies, and finally expand globally throughout the year. The initial API partners include 4C, Brand Networks, Ampush, Kenshoo, Laundry Service, MediaVest (Publicis), Nanigans, Olapic, Resolution Media (OMG), Salesforce, SocialCode, Social Moov and Unified.
Instagram, until now, had taken very small steps when it came to advertisement on its platform. However, with the new set of announcements Facebook has made its intention clear on how it wants to evolve advertisement. While it has introduced a range of features, Instagram will benefit a lot from the experience of Facebook. “We have benefited greatly from being a part of Facebook,” Quarles said. “It would have taken us years to build this tech stack for ourselves. So, we’re fortunate to be able to take select pieces of Facebook’s tech stack.”
Will the next big thing on Instagram would be processing ecommerce payments? Quarles hasn’t ruled it out. “We’re not announcing in-app commerce today”. Still, he admits “we’re watching the space closely. We want to help reduce the friction from the point of inspiration to transaction.”