Until very recently, only followers of an Instagram influencer would see the influencer’s paid content in their feeds. But changes to Instagram advertising practices mean that now, paid content posts may appear on a user’s feed or Stories, even if that user does not follow the influencer.
Known as branded content ads, these posts/aka ads will appear like an ad while technically still being sponsored content. As a concept that Instagram has tested since last fall, the roll out (announced last week) will be quick. Within weeks, advertisers will have the option to feature posts like ads in the Instagram feed and in the next few months the option to also feature them in Stories.
According to Instagram, who describes branded content as “an evolving ecosystem,” 68 percent of users are on the site to follow or interact with celebrities, including online celebrities. In the spirit of transparency, and because the Federal Trade Commission requires it, the ad-like content will include the words “paid partnership” and the brand’s name at the bottom.
The Instagram announcement included the following observation from Liat Weingarten, vice president of brand communications for Old Navy, “We’ve long seen that customers want to discover fashion through trusted sources who have credibility, but organic reach on that content has become increasingly limited.
“So we’re consistently looking for more sophisticated ways like Branded Content ads to serve partner content to the right shoppers, instead of just throwing it into the social ether. Promoting content directly from an influencer’s handle inherently gives the post more authenticity than coming from a brand handle, and we’re seeing significantly higher engagement rates using this strategy.”
Interesting Instagram Factoids. Are Any of These a Surprise to You?
- Over 1 billion people are Instagram active monthly users; over 500 million people are active daily users
- 59% of Instagram users are age 18 to 29; 33% are between the ages of 30 and 49
- 60% of Instagram users log in daily
- In an almost perfect split, 50.3% of users are female while 49.7% are male
- 38% of all US internet users are on Instagram
- An Instagram user averages 53 minutes online per day