The Instagram Ads Platform is Expanding — and What That Means for Your eCommerce Store

Instagram’s Ad Platform is Expanding

If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you may have noticed an increase in the number of promoted content showing up in your feed from businesses that you may or may not follow. Instagram announced last year that it would be opening its advertising platform to all businesses, and now Instagram advertising is a favorite among eCommerce marketers in the consumer goods space.

Initial feedback from companies running campaigns on Instagram have been positive, and click-through rates are reportedly higher on Instagram ads than on other social media platforms. You’re two times more likely to see engagement with your ads on Instagram than on other platforms. Not a bad start for Instagram ads!

For small to mid-sized eCommerce stores, this new advertising outlet can be a great opportunity. If you decide to run campaigns on Instagram (or are considering it), here are a few things to consider:

Be Authentic, Provide Value, and be Unobtrusive

Although large retailers will have the obvious benefit of money to pump into the new advertising channel, small to mid-sized businesses have the upper hand in being seen as more authentic, genuine, and sincere. The new ads mean you should give extra care to demonstrate your brand’s personality and unique voice through your images. Similarly, you’ll want to make your photos as visually appealing as possible in order to stand out among the other brands that will be advertising to your customers.

Until now, Instagram was a safe haven for social media who didn’t want to be bombarded by ads, and they could pick and choose which businesses served them content by following them on the platform. Because of this, Instagram users will likely be on their guard as more businesses run campaigns on the platform. They won’t have the control of whose content they see like they did before ads were introduced, so your ads should provide value (with visually pleasing content and information) and be unobtrusive.

instagram ads


Be Active & Consider Your Target Customers

Whether or not this new ad channel will benefit your company will depend on your current marketing efforts. If you’re not already actively adding content to Instagram, interacting with your followers, and keeping a pulse on what resonates with your target market, you’ll be at a disadvantage when it comes to running campaigns.

Think about your target customer groups. What kinds of instagram photos would you find in their feed? What style and subject matter do their friends and the influencers they follow share? Aim to model your visual ads to match this content (while staying true to your brand). If your ads look like content that your customers would engage with naturally, then they will be less likely to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to your ad and, in fact, engage with it.

The ages of your target market will also factor into your success with Instagram ads. Its users are, on average, younger than those of its parent company, Facebook. Investment banking company Piper Jaffray reported in their survey “Talking Stock with Teens” that 83% of wealthy U.S. teens are on Instagram. According to Statista, 55% of users are between the ages of 18-29.

Luckily, Instagram will soon release a native analytics platform for marketers that includes audience demographics. You can use these insights to help shape the type of content you share and make it more relevant for your followers. Staying relevant and producing engaging content is especially important now that the platform is moving away from the chronological news feed toward an algorithmic newsfeed that, like Facebook, shows posts based on what the user is likely to engage with it, how recent the post is, and their relationship with the one who posted it.  This means that if you’re posting mediocre content, your posts could become deprioritized in the new feed (which should roll out in the next few months).

For many eCommerce marketers, Instagram is the platform to watch now. If you decide to run promoted campaigns in the next couple of months, remember to monitor your ads closely along with your account’s followers and engagement to make sure it is impacting your business in a positive way. For more information about getting up and running with Instagram ads, check out Instagram’s advertising page.