Instagram Launches New Ad Format to Expand Influencer Marketing Reach

Iris Hearn

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Instagram Launches New Ad Format to Expand Influencer Marketing Reach Blog Feature

Published on March 8th, 2019

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This week, Instagram announced they’ll be rolling out “Branded Content Ads,” a new ad type that will allow Instagram to create more formal partnerships around influencer marketing campaigns.

Currently, the platform is one of the top platforms for influencer marketing - where brands sponsor branded posts from celebrities and social media stars.

This tactic has been useful in generating awareness, engagement,  and consumer interest but it does come with its limitations.

When a brand partners with an influencer to promote a product, the post can usually only reach that influencer’s followers.

Now, Branded Content Ads allow companies to promote these sponsored Instagram posts like any other ad they run.

Instagram’s Branded Content Partnership Program

This isn’t the first Branded Content asset Instagram has released.

Back in 2017, Instagram introduced Branded Content Partnership Program after the FTC cracked down on influencers promoting products for brands without disclosing the sponsorship to their followers.

This feature allowed the influencer to include a tag in the post header that made it clear the photo was part of a paid partnership with the tagged brand.

instagram-branded-content-partnership-program

However, even though the post was clearly brand-affiliated, the Branded Content Partnership Program's terms still prevented brands from running ads with that post to increase engagement. In other words, they were barred from capitalizing on this content that was clearly already working and enjoyed by their audience.  

With the launch of Branded Content Ads, that roadblock will no longer exist.

Instagram product management lead Ashley Yuki reported to AdAge that they’ve been testing this since last year, and have yielded positive results.

"Brands are seeing that this branded content ad product sometimes helps overcome challenges they have with organic branded content,"

"[They are] exploring ways that brands can amplify branded content."

Essentially, this ad type couples the best assets of both paid ads and influencer marketing.

With Instagram ads relatively cost-friendly, brands can now gain a better ROI from their partnerships with influencers.

Branded Content Ads also have the additional benefit of being able to target the users you want the ad to reach, and Instagram’s algorithm ensures they’ll see it.

Even if they don’t follow the particular influencer, it’s likely they know who they are if they’re in the brand’s target market.

The Future of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is nothing new. Marketers have used celebrities and other well-known figures in advertisements for decades.

However, social media made the landscape a little more clouded.

Having a relatable influencer post with your product (rather than a Hollywood star, for example), even though a  partnership may be disclosed, feels more organic than if we saw a commercial featuring the same person.

Instagram allowing brands to run paid ads with partnerships shows that brands are taking influencers seriously as a marketing asset, and want to make sure their efforts reach as many people as possible.

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