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The Ads Are Coming: Instagram Advertisements in U.S. Feeds

Inbound Marketing

Instagram ads are coming. What now?

Like Pinterest Promoted Pins, Instagram ads are still in their infancy. Right now Instagram is only allowing ads from some of the larger businesses that already have a sizable presence. Instagram hasn’t yet fully emphasized its expectations from companies that want to participate in paid promotion as it slowly implements this new program.

Getting Impressions

Instagram, now owned by Facebook if you recall, expects to match ads to users by correlating them with prior user behavior and preferences on Facebook and Instagram itself. In the FAQ section about sponsored photos and videos, Instagram states it will “include the people you follow and the photos and videos you like on Instagram, and your interests and other basic info on Facebook” to determine ad relevance.

If you have done your other social media marketing right, especially for Facebook, Instagram will add an extra boost to your exposure. If you have not optimized your social media presence, now is a great time to start. Don’t waste any time, because both Instagram and Pinterest may try to make these services more widely available for the holiday shopping season.

Ad Recognition and User Options

Instagram has already published a sample ad showing how a user will recognize a paid placement:

People will easily see the “sponsored” notation at the top of the post. They can offer feedback or hide the photo/video easily by clicking on the three dots at the bottom.

Visual Quality

Instagram has stated that it expects all photos and videos for ads to be of very high quality, which should be a no-brainer for a marketer. You know you need to show your company in the best possible light. Cheesy videos and blurry photos won’t represent you well.

If you are just getting acquainted with visual marketing be aware that looks count. It may be better to be a little late to the game than to turn off potential customers with poor visuals.

Rights Management

Instagram also reiterated that you will still maintain control of all your photos and videos. So you shouldn’t have to worry about Instagram using your pics without permission. All the same, remain vigilant. Instagram didn’t say anything about being the copyright police. You want to be sure your competitors aren’t using your content for their benefit.


There are opportunities to insert keywords and phrases within the photo or video descriptions and titles. Since these areas are similar to Twitter you can also add hashtags and users can “Like” your stuff as well as comment on it.

Now is a good time to prepare to integrate this tool into your off-page seo strategy (if it’s right for your business) as Instagram eases its way into paid placement. With the holiday season ramping up, Instagram--like Pinterest--will probably be looking to roll this out to nearly everyone as quickly as possible. We’ll keep you posted.

Inbound Marketing 2014 Guide from Mojo Media Labs


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