There was big news from Instagram last week. The photo-sharing application announced in its company blog that users will soon be seeing an occasional ad in their Instagram feeds. The transition to advertising will be gradual because, as the blog acknowledges, “Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow.”
I’m thinking the introduction of advertising is a smart move. Instagram wants to build a sustainable business. And with more than150 million users, the potential audience is large enough for advertisers to take a serious look. Offering advertising opportunities is a smart business decision.
We haven’t seen details about specific ad formats yet, but Instagram clearly understands that advertising must enhance the user experience in some way. Their blog post notes that, “We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.” Instagram gets it. They realize that the best advertising engages people when they are in the right frame of mind and receptive to the message. Very much like a brilliant print ad positioned next to a relevant article in a well-targeted magazine.
So how might this work for members of the Instagram community? A few examples…
Let’s say that I enjoy gourmet cooking and eagerly wait for my favorite celebrity chef to Instagram his next round of mouthwatering recipes. I just might be receptive to an ad for fine cutlery. Or some new culinary delights presented by an ingredients manufacturer for the holidays.
If I’m excited about traveling to the Scandinavian Peninsula and eagerly search out pictures of the region, I might also welcome ads featuring exquisite, hand crafted leather luggage. Or a luxury cruise that visits major ports on the Baltic Sea.
If I indulge my passion for vintage guitars, I will certainly be receptive to ads from dealers or manufacturers showcasing beautiful instruments from the past century.
The possibilities are nearly unlimited so we look forward to Instagram’s foray into advertising. But one thing is certain. No matter how much ad formats or technology change, a core principle of successful advertising still endures – getting the right message in the right place and at the right time. If Instagram and its advertisers make this happen, they will have a winner!