Instagram Launches Advertising API

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Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram’s user base has more than doubled to 300 million (Twitter has 284 million). Instagram shares more than 70 million photos daily that collect 2.5 billion ‘likes’. Last week Instagram announced its much anticipated API making it clear Facebook is going to leverage the power of experience gained with 1.3 billion fans to ramp up advertising on Instagram.

Businesses can now advertise programmatically on Instagram using the API to target and filter their audiences using Facebook's profiling power. Targeting not only by location and demographics but interest and likes will become available this year.

Samsung’s new Instagram sponsored ad in Australia is technically good in terms of using blogger and Instagram influencer Nadia Fairfax who has close to 100K followers, specific hashtags and linking the ad image. The creative however is confusing with a model in a sleeveless gold dress in the snow, blue with cold, holding a Samsung phone. The ad is getting plenty of ‘likes’ and plenty of critical comments.

Red Cross Australia is doing better with images of celebrities such as Donna Hay inviting Instagrammers to get a designer cookie instead of the traditional packet biscuit donors in Australia receive for giving blood. Sure it’s a cause related but this use of an influencer makes more sense in terms of engagement and interaction through comments.

The links on the image of Samsung’s Instagram phone ads and from the ‘LEARN MORE’ below them, both click through to ‘BUY NOW’ landing pages with shopping cart and not Samsung’s Instagram account. Red Cross Australia’s Instagram ads are linked with its Instagram account which features some related videos of Donna Hay for example.

At the time of the announcement of the launch of Instagram’s API, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research estimated Instagram’s ad revenues could rise from $US112 million in 2015 to close to $US1billion in 2017 and as much as $US3.86 billion by 2020.

Instagram’s API makes advertising easier with more accurate campaign tracking and extra insights into consumer decision making and online navigation and purchasing behaviour. Instagram’s partnering with Hootsuite to facilitate the scheduling of Instagram posts also adds an extra dynamic. The functionalities of the API are going to make advertising on Instagram attractive as well as setting the challenge of creating ads that get ‘likes’, comments and conversions in a community mostly free of ads previously.