As Instagram’s latest hit feature explodes in popularity, it is inevitably being opened up to more advertisers. Luckily, users have the power to skip sponsored content.
Instagram is opening up Stories to all advertisers in a bid to capitalize on the success of the feature.
Having started testing ads with a select amount of partners in January — including Buick, Nike, Netflix, and Airbnb, among others — the company is now allowing businesses of all sizes to jump on the bandwagon.
What this essentially means for Instagram users is more ad breaks popping up between Stories, which are viewed in a constant stream on the photo-sharing app. The full-screen ads will last anywhere between five seconds for images and 15 seconds for video. Each promotional message will carry a “sponsored” label at the bottom, to ensure you don’t mistake it for user-generated content. Fortunately, Instagram gives its members the ability to skip ads by simply swiping on the screen (so get those fingers at the ready).
For the uninitiated, Stories are temporal slideshows comprised of images and videos shared within the span of 24 hours. Launched in August, the feature racked up an impressive 150 million daily view count in the span of just five months.
Upon the test launch of ads for Stories, Instagram revealed that 70 percent of its 600 million users follow a business and that one-third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses. It also claimed that roughly 70 percent of stories are being watched with the sound on. Overall, the statistics indicated that Stories were ripe for advertising, with brands such as fashion label Mulberry boasting an increase in site engagement from swipable links in Stories.
As a result of the expansion, businesses will be able to create ads for Instagram Stories and track their reach, impressions, replies and exits (marketing speak for how many users either watch or interact with them) using Facebook’s ad manager tool.
Instagram’s ads expansion follows in the footsteps of its parent company Facebook. The big, blue social network also announced its plans to test midroll ads within videos in January. The move is a way for Facebook (and publishers) to generate revenue from videos, which the company claims will make up 70 percent of all traffic on its platform by 2021.
Users worried that the changes may affect the viewing experience on Facebook and Instagram should keep in mind that pre- and mid-roll ads are ubiquitous. Both YouTube and Twitter utilize them in one form or another, and Snapchat began inserting skippable ads between Stories last year.
Instagram has not specified how much it intends to pocket from the promotional content, although Facebook is thought to be keeping 45 percent of ad sales (the same deal offered by YouTube).
Updated 03-02-2017 by Saqib Shah: Added info of general rollout of ads for Instagram Stories.