What Carousel Ads On Instagram Mean To Brands

Instagram has launched Carousel Ads - a set of four photos with links that will open in an internal browser, we look at how brands could leverage it for telling stories

Carousel_Ads_On_Instagram

Following a collaboration with Colette during Paris Fashion Week, CEO Tim Cook and design chief Jony Ive arranged for supermodel Liu Wen to wear the watch on the cover of the next Vogue China. Next time before going to Vogue again, Apple might want to take a look at the new carousel ads from Instagram.

The Facebook owned photo and video sharing network, Instagram which claims that 300 million people around the world use the network each month, finally allows URLs to open on its network with the launch of carousel ads. The company stated on its blog – “Carousel ads, a new way for brands to share more images with people interested in their posts. Carousel ads give brands more flexibility in telling their stories by allowing people who view their ads to swipe left to see additional images and link to a website of the brand’s choice.”

So for the first time, Instagram will start showing clickable links with the carousel ads that will tell a story by letting you swipe through four branded images in sequence. The format is still in flux; Instagram says it will try a variety of styles in coming weeks before settling on one. The new “Learn More” button that houses these links will open a URL in an internal browser within Instagram that allows you to quickly jump back to the feed with a tap of the top bar. “It’s a great new creative canvas,” Instagram monetization lead James Quarles told TC.

According to Instagram, the carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ Or a non-profit organization telling its story about how it is building schools with the use of carousel ads on Instagram, like Pencils Of Promise is doing as shown in the video below.

May be Mercedes might want to think of bringing back the Build Your Own GLA campaign which had given users an opportunity to create their own custom versions of the car on Instagram.

However, the provision of URLs isn’t about product purchases or sign-up said Quarles. “This initial launch will have a brand emphasis”, explaining the ads are meant to let people learn more about a company. The in-app web browser along with the carousel ads’ isn’t a full-blown browser. The browser doesn’t include a search bar or URL, so people can’t use it to navigate directly to websites.

Introduced to a limited set of brands, the carousel ads are being sold on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis. For now, these ads will just include photos, but Instagram is considering whether to allow videos in carousels too. While the new set of ads from Instagram gives more options for advertisers to engage with fans but at a time when Pinterest is showing more value to retailers it would be interesting to see how long Instagram holds itself.

The other fear for the network lovers could be too many links and carousels that could dilute the network. To keep a check on this it is being told that CEO Kevin Systrom gives final approval on all ads allowed on the platform.

Having paid $715 million to acquire the network, Facebook has been cautious in opening up the platform for advertisers. Instagram first began showing ads in October 2013, later on came the video ads but over the time advertisers have demanded more meaningful returns. With this new launch now brands can measure who all have swiped through multiple photos and clicked through to their site, along with likes, comments and visibility.

Good news for brands but it is a shame that the feature hasn’t been rolled out for the average users who have made Instagram popular over the years by sharing their creativity and joy. This will also solve the problem of clogging by over excited users on the feed.  “Once we iterate and see how people engage with the content, [we] may explore the possibility of bringing it to other types of users on Instagram,” the Instagram spokesman said.