What happened: After months of testing, Instagram released its video ads at the end of October. The visual social network continues to make plays as a major platform and is currently in the camp of helping – not hindering – brands. Last year, Instagram launched photo ads and since has been hands-on with brands and their content – Mashable reported that Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom looks at every ad before it goes live. Introducing ads is a delicate balance: Consumers generally want a commercial-free social media experience, and Instagram is making sure the content that passes through is innovative and not too salesy. High-end fashion brands are taking notice of the network’s ad viability and, in the holiday push, are boosting online sales by making Instagram “shoppable.”
What it means for brands: Online audiences are increasingly becoming mobile-centric. At its core, Instagram is still a mobile application – you can only post photo/video from your mobile device. Further, Instagram is growing quickly and expanding its demographic, having surpassed 200 million monthly active users earlier this year. Brands are testing Instagram’s ad service, and as the network has put so much effort into ensuring a coherent study with the types of images you would normally see in a feed, the video ads may likely follow suit. Banana Republic finds the sweet spot with its 15-second spot of a silent time-lapse video depicting behind-the-scenes content of holiday fashion sketches, though Disney and the CW Network also have debuted ads that some argue are just mini commercials. Time will tell on engagement, but it’s safe to say that ads are definitely going to play a major role in Instagram’s future and are a great way for brands to get in front of a larger audience – with a core organic strategy to support, of course.