Thursday, February 6, 2014

At the tail-end of last year, Instagram finally succumbed to the inevitable and introduced ads to their hugely successful photo and video sharing platform. They started small, with a sample ad placed directly into users' feeds. Just ten brands were invited to participate in the phased rollout. Selective ads from leading brand marketers took a creative approach, with Instagram demanding only the most relevant, compelling content from affiliates.

Crucially for the monetization of the brand, it is now part of the Facebook empire. The acquisition was a brilliant move for the social network, which picked up Instagram’s 180 million+ MAUs. With Facebook’s existing mobile audience sitting at close to a billion, it has extended its reach further still. Analysts expect Instagram to generate $540 million per year in revenues, which would make it a major profit driver for Facebook.

Video content promises to be a major tenet of the relationship between this corporate power couple. Facebook is set to roll out video ads shortly, and the visual nature of Instagram has long been its strongest defence against cheap, ugly-looking ads. For creatives, it means upping their game. For users, it means a more pleasant experience.

Concomitant with the roll-out of video content is an increasing focus on mobile ads. Some industry analysts are expecting mobile use to outstrip desktop by 2015, and advertisers are making an early transition to mobile-focused content. The twin forces of Instagram and Facebook are, naturally, putting themselves center-stage of this mobile revolution. Mobile marketing teams must start fitting Instagram into their plans now. Done right, it will leverage the clout of the biggest social network in their favor.