How to Get Started with Instagram Advertising

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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Instagram is rolling out its much-anticipated advertising platform. You’ll soon see an increase in the number of advertisements in your news feed, from companies big and small – and as a marketer you’ll have the opportunity to run your own Instagram advertising campaign. So how does it work and why should you be part of it?

June of 2015 saw the release of the Instagram’s advertising service and it will be available to the public at the end of September. With an active user base of over 300 million, when it does go public, it will become one of the largest advertising platforms available.

Social media advertising has proven itself a worthy digital marketing strategy. It’s been shown to increase brand awareness, conversion rates, and sales. Like it or not it’s here to stay.

Reaching prospects where they “hang out” is the aim of the game. Instagram’s popularity is still intact after the testing period – it’s now time to drill down and get in touch with these users through the shiny new advertising platform.

How it works

As you know, Instagram is part of the Facebook juggernaut. Its advertising platform lives on the back of the thriving Facebook ad service. This leverage gives Instagram an enormous head start over competing, visual advertising platforms. StumbleUpon or Pinterest just don’t have the data power that Facebook has.

The result?

For advertisers: superior targeting.

For consumers: relevant advertisements.

When you connect your Instagram and Facebook accounts, you’re doing more than sharing snaps with your social channels. In one connection, you’re sharing your interests, age, location and other relevant demographics with Instagram.

This includes every page on Facebook you’ve ever liked, groups you’re in, your friends… it even goes as far as using data derived from status updates to tailor which ads you see and when.

This is where Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram begins to make a huge amount of sense. With the new advertising platform they’ll earn back the $1B cost for the service in no time.

How to get started

Kicking off an Instagram ad campaign all starts with Facebook. Head to and set up a “Business Manager” account. From there, you’ll be able to manage and create pages, run and analyse advertisements and oversee your marketing campaign in one place.

Next you’ll need to claim an Instagram account for your Business Manager profile. On the left-hand side, hover over Business Settings and choose Instagram accounts. If the Instagram option doesn’t appear, you’ll know you don’t have access yet.

The set-up will be familiar to those who have used Facebook ads. You have Campaigns, Ad Sets and Ads within each set. Create these in the Power Editor Option within Business Manager.

Choose from Cost per Click, Cost per Mille (1000 impressions) and Cost per View and start getting creative. Use multi-image carousels, single engaging images or a video to represent your brand or cause.

How is it different?

It all sounds familiar. Did they just duplicate the Facebook ad platform?

Not exactly.

The Instagram platform is its own, with improvements and benefits to boot.

Advertisers will be able to upload up to 30 seconds of video (as opposed to 3-15 seconds for non-business users) and choose landscape aspect ratios over the standard Instagram square. The design of these extras is to attract advertisers in the television ads domain.

It will also test a feature called “Marquee,” which will extend advertisers’ reach during certain events. TV show debuts, sporting fixtures, and product launches will be able to “own the moment” when it becomes available.

Instagram ads will also offer a wider range of call to action buttons covering things from travel to e-commerce. These buttons will open an in-app browser that will link to external addresses.

It’s important to note that, at the time of writing, these ads will only appear within the Instagram app running on Android and IOS devices. If you’ve got a database full of Windows Phone users, sit this one out for now.

In closing

Instagram will be a major contributor to social media advertising spend that is set to reach $18b globally by 2018. Early results from ad tests showed a 2.9% better recall rate of Instagram ads compared to other online ads such as banners and pop-ups.

And it’s only the beginning. With a huge focus placed on the Facebook adverts platform, Instagram will enjoy the same level of refining and improving.

This leaves the door wide open for the creative advertisers among us. Targeting and retargeting through multiple mediums is the weapon of choice.

If done right, Instagram ads will compliment any advertising campaign.

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