Following Twitter’s SME push, Facebook-owned Instagram backs small firms with ad support

Of course, it shouldn’t be entirely unexpected given that Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.

The Mark Zuckerberg-owned firm bought the filter-based photo app back in 2012 for $1bn and caused quite a stir in the process. Many questioned why Facebook spent so much on a startup with no revenue, while existing Instagram users vowed to abandon the app.

Despite the commotion, the firm has gone on to increase its user base significantly and introduced advertising to user feeds in November 2013 as a means of making a profit from its then 150m users – today the firm has 300m monthly active users.

The revenue model initially begun as a US-only effort, with Michael Kors producing the debut promotion, but the ads eventually rolled into the UK and onto the devices of British users as part of a “slow, measured” launch with the likes of Channel 4 and Cadbury in autumn 2014.

Instagram has now revealed the past few months have been spent making advertising with the company a simplified DIY process so that small advertisers can also run campaigns – not just the large ones.

The push will result in Instagram ads extending into more than 30 countries including Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and South Korea. The announcement comes fresh after Twitter made its advertising service more accessible to SMEs with a push into over 200 markets in September.

Instagram will use the infrastructure found on its parent’s platform, embracing the Facebook model to allow advertisers to target customers based on specific preferences, such as fashion, food or fitness.

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“Businesses of all sizes have been testing these new capabilities this summer with positive results, and we’re seeing significant demand, particularly in areas like ecommerce, travel, entertainment and retail,” the company said. “We’re thrilled to see what brands can achieve in the months ahead using Instagram as their creative canvas.”

The launch coincides with yet another renewed enterprise commitment from Facebook, which this time saw the firm reveal an update to provide businesses with more mobile-centric support. The firm, which achieved one billion users in a single day in August, now claims that 79 per cent of the UK’s Facebook users are connected to an SME.

“People come to Instagram for visual inspiration, and advertising on Instagram has the power to touch, inspire and move people. Instagram ads have proven to drive strong branding results — 97 per cent of measured campaigns on Instagram have generated significant lifts in ad recall,” the company explained.

Although its users can only post videos with a length of up to 15-seconds, video ads on the app will extend to 30-seconds to provide brands with “richer storytelling” opportunities. Earlier in the month, Instagram made it possible for users to add landscape and horizontal images rather than just its staple square format and it expects this will also be a boon for marketers.

Drawing upon existing advertisers, Instagram highlighted that Gilt Groupe’s campaign resulted in an 85 per cent app download increase, while furniture firm Made.com achieved a ten per cent order value spike on the back of its campaign.

The firm concluded: “Thousands of businesses around the world already use Instagram as their shop window. We’re thrilled to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to reach people with more relevant ads on Instagram. And we will continue to improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see.”

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