By Noah Jarosh
The advertising world changed a few weeks ago when Instagram announced open advertising in line with what has already been available on networks like Facebook and Twitter. For now, Instagram ads are unpublished-only and can only be link posts, app install ads or video.
Of course, you probably already knew that. The trick now is to identify creative that will work best for your ads on the network. That means understanding the audience that uses Instagram and realizing the relative novelty of sponsored content within a user's feed.
Recently, Facebook began reporting levels (low/medium/high) of positive and negative engagements on promoted content. Because Instagram ads are run through the same platform as Facebook, that information is also relayed on Instagram campaigns.
Thus far, early returns on that have shown that it is extremely easy to get high levels of negative engagement if you aren't careful. While your ad may still perform well, it's not a good sign of long-term success if a large contingent of your targeted audience does not warmly receive your promotions.
One large part of the reason for heightened negativity is simply how new ads are to the feed. It should be expected that people will bristle after being ad-free for so long. To combat this, images used on Instagram should look like they belong on Instagram. That is to say, they shouldn't look too much like an advertisement. And that's OK. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, an Instagram ad is going to take up a user's entire screen as they scroll over it. Having an image that looks like it belongs is going to create more of a pause, meaning more attention paid to the ad, meaning an overall higher ad recall rate.
The below are some examples of what good Instagram creative could look like, based on actual advertisements on the platform.
Notice the images on each of those posts. They look like something you would see in your own Instagram feed from friends and family, right? The organic look of these ads will help ease users in to advertising on Instagram and create a familiarity where more heavy-handed ad imagery can then be used in an increasingly effective manner.
Now look at these sponsored Instagram posts:
You can clearly see a difference in these two sets of creative. This second set are very clearly advertisements — it's clear as soon as you see (or more likely quickly scroll past) them. The top set takes a more demure approach.
For now, the organic-looking imagery is likely to resonate better with an audience still gaining familiarity with seeing paid content on the site. It may not always be that way, but when your ad takes up the entirety of the page, it will help to make it something worth seeing.