Australian businesses of all sizes can now advertise on one of the fastest growing social media platforms, Instagram.
While local businesses are already realising the benefits of engaging with customers on Instagram and large advertisers have had access to the Facebook-owned platform since June 2014, Instagram has now opened up its advertising products to small businesses.
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A spokesperson for Instagram confirmed to SmartCompany this morning that starting this month, Instagram ads will be available to all businesses in Australia.
In a statement released overnight, Instagram said it will be using “technology that leverages the best of Facebook’s ads infrastructure” to allow businesses of all sizes to run advertising campaigns.
The advertising services will be expanded to 30 additional countries, including Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and South Korea.
Instagram also unveiled several new ad formats that will be available to businesses.
Advertisers can choose between landscape photo and video ads of up to 30 seconds in length, as well as a new advertising feature called Marquee.
Designed for events such as movie premieres or product launches, Marquee ads are time-sensitive and according to Instagram, will help “drive mass awareness”.
Instagram said it will also offer businesses “delivery and optimisation tools to manage and drive the best performance of campaigns across Facebook and Instagram”.
And for the prospective ad audience the platform said it will “continue to improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see”.
Dionne Lew, social media consultant and chief executive of the Social Executive, told SmartCompany this morning the extension of Instagram’s advertising services is “a great move for small businesses as it will allow them to really target their advertising dollar and leverage off the love of sharing photos that people seem to have”.
But while Instagram has provided examples of advertisers that have run successful advertising campaigns on the platform – US retailer Gilt Groupe saw an 85% uplift in customers installing its app following an Instagram campaign – Lew says it is still too early to assess the effectiveness of advertising on the platform.
“The kind of niche targeting that Facebook allows will be great to reach into audiences directly related to a business’s product or service,” Lew says.
“Because of click-to-shop options, it should be easy to measure conversion.”
Lew says allowing advertisers to broadcast 30-second commercials on Instagram is “taking social to a whole new level”.
She will be watching with interest to see how Instagram users respond to Marquee ads, which will effectively allow brands to “own a moment”.
But she warns businesses to be mindful of the reasons why users are attracted to Instagram in the first place.
“If Instagram becomes an advertising channel, I can’t imagine users being happy so it’s going to be a constant refinement and striking the right balance,” she says.
“I imagine there will be ongoing iterations as Instagram responds to demand and user reaction to get the balance right, but we will see.”
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