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Instagram Stories Ads Are Now Available To All Businesses

Social Media TodayMarch 2017

Instagram’s Snapchat-cloning Stories feature has already seen huge uptake, with 150 million daily active users, closing in on Snapchat’s own use figures (161 million DAU in December 2016).

And the Facebook-owned platform is not wasting any time monetizing this new opportunity – back in January, Instagram announced Stories ads, full-screen, immersive brand offerings which are inserted between Stories from people you follow.

At the time of that initial announcement, Instagram was testing Stories ads with 30 partners, but now, the platform is making the option available to all brands.

As per Instagram:

“Businesses of every size around the world can start running ads in stories through the Marketing API, Power Editor and Ads Manager optimized for reach. By optimizing for reach, you can show your ads to the maximum number of people in your audience and control how often they see your ads. The reach objective for ads in stories will begin rolling out today and will be available globally in the next few weeks.”

As was noted in the original announcement, Stories ads will be sold on a CPM basis, with support for additional ad objectives - including website clicks, website conversions, and mobile app installs – to be enabled within the coming months.

Ad views will be counted as soon as the ads appear – there’ll be no three second view threshold like there is with Facebook video content (this also aligns with how Snapchat counts views). The ads will be signified by a small ‘Sponsored’ marker at the bottom center of screen (which you can see in the example above) and will be skippable. Instagram Stories ads will also be limited to 15 seconds in length and won’t be clickable - at least not at this stage.

So will they work?

The actual effectiveness of Stories ads, of course, will be defined by your audience – if the people you’re trying to reach are active on Instagram, and active on Stories specifically, it makes sense that that’s where you should also be.

So how do you know where your audience is active?

Determining whether your target market is on Instagram is not overly difficult – you can scan for mentions of related keywords and hashtags (Instagram shows you hashtag usage stats within the search option), while you can also check in on competitors and those in your industry to get an idea of what sort of engagement they’re seeing and what types of posts people are responding too.

You can also use analytics tools to get a better idea of brand performance on the platform – for example, Klear will provide you with a basic overview of per-post performance and audience stats across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In terms of Stories use specifically, there’s no definitive data on which age groups are more actively using Stories at this stage, though general Instagram age bracket data could be an indicator – Pew Research notes that the majority of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 29, which would also align with the key users of Stories, if you use Snapchat as the example.

Instagram has also reported that a third of the most watched Stories on the platform have come from business accounts, and that one in five stories results in a direct message from viewers, so there’s clear consumer interest in the option. Instagram also says that 70% of Instagrammersfollow a business - and 60% report learning about products and services via the app.

For a comparative measure of ad effectiveness within Stories, you could look to Snapchat’s ad performance. A recent report showed that around 69% of Snapchat users skip ads on the platform “always” or “often” – a figure that goes up to 80% percent among 18 to 24-year-old users. That seems a lot, but it's actually in line with general industry norms – between 70% and 80% of YouTube users also skip ads, while an ad click through rate of around 3% on Facebook is generally considered to be around average.

On balance, Stories ads look like they could have significant potential – in relative terms – for the right brands with the right ad content. Results with such ads are always highly subjective, but the immersive, full-screen presentation will provide good opportunity to grab users’ attention and generate awareness.

Worth consideration in your process.

Instagram Stories ads are available to all brands, globally, from today – you can check out more specific details of Instagram Stories ad requirements in the Facebook Marketing API outline.

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