Instagram Steps Up Its Game with New ‘Carousel Ads’: What This Means For Your Instagram Advertising Strategy

Those who know me well are aware that I am 100% insta-addicted. I’m not ashamed to admit that my boyfriend and I frequently have competitions over who can get more “likes” on their posts (because I typically win). I use the feed to post personal pictures of family, friends, and beautiful life moments when I’m ever so lucky to capture them on my iPhone camera, but I also follow brands that I love and continuously discover new businesses to follow through hashtags and browsing my search feed.

instagram advertising photograph of the charles river in boston posted on instagram 

One of my favorite grams of the Charles River sunrise by yours truly

And I don’t think I’m a weirdo for being head-over-heals in love with Instagram because I am clearly not alone. With over 300 million users, surpassing Twitter, Instagram has become the new MVP of social media. Everyone in my inner circle, including my parents, prefer Instagram over Facebook (keep in mind that Facebook owns Instagram). With the tremendous growth of the social platform, opportunities for advertisers have only continued to increase.

Yesterday Instagram announced a major game-changer for advertisers. This new ad format, “carrousel ads,” allow advertisers to post a slideshow format of photos, which ends on a landing page linking to the company’s website. Ding, ding, Instagram has accomplished what all advertisers have been waiting for, an opportunity to get leads and conversions from the platform. “Carousel ads give brands more flexibility in telling their stories by allowing people who view their ads to swipe left to see additional images and link to a website of the brand’s choice,” writes the Instagram Business Blog. “One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more.”

 instagram advertising example of carousel ad

The Problem? Not All Instagram Accounts Have Access

I recently wrote a post on 10 Instagram marketing tips, in which I explained that only select, big-brand advertisers have been given the permissions to sponsor posts on the platform. Sadly, this is still the case. Not every business can hop on Instagram and start running a marketing campaign, as one can on Twitter or Facebook.

With that said, carousel ads are also only available to select advertisers. Why, Instagram, why? My guess is because the platform is still a baby, and they’re trying to see what works and what doesn’t to fuel their company’s growth before letting all advertisers run wild and turn users off. “Company executives have stressed that ads will be incorporated at a measured pace, with Instagram’s main focus on boosting users,” says Reuters.

Instagram always prides themselves on putting the users first, but is this all just an act to generate more revenue? Probably, but either way my loyalty to the platform will continue to thrive.

There is also speculation that with carousel ads the opportunity for smaller to medium-sized businesses to build their brands on the platform is going to become increasingly challenging unless they’re willing to throw a boatload of money on advertisements in the future. “A similar tension arose when Facebook, Instagram’s parent company began tweaking its News Feed algorithms in a way that seemed to prioritize advertisements over regular posts from brands and businesses,” says Wired. “It’s a change that left many companies with no choice but to begin buying access to their own followers through ads or risk watching their so called ‘organic’ reach continue to slide.”

To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me much. Why wouldn’t the people paying get more visibility? It makes sense and is unfortunate, but if ROI is scene then there shouldn’t be anything to complain about, right? I also think there’s still big opportunities for smaller brands to gain traction organically if they’re tactical and intelligent about their strategy.

So, What Exactly Does This Mean for My Instagram Ad Strategy?

Well, not much, because you’re likely not one of the select big-brands that’s been given advertising rights. In the meantime, I’d suggest continuing to build your Instagram presence through engaging content, hashtags, and publishing your handle on your company blog, other social channels, email signatures, etc. If you’re posting eye-catching content and people like your brand, they’re going to follow you, but it might not be easy to get in the face of new leads on Instagram. Still, I would not rule the platform out because I predict that Instagram will become even more and more important to your social strategy as time goes on. Just think of those 300 million and growing users out there!

Also, these changes and growth of Instagram show just how powerful and prevalent mobile is. We all already know this, right? But have we all addressed it? Make sure your website is mobile optimized, including all landing pages because whether you like it or not, mobile is the present and the future.

Follow these 10 Instagram marketing tips to improve your content and get more reach organically through hashtags, contests, interactions and so on.

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream with a background in PPC, SEM, content and digital marketing. She enjoys running and eating ice cream during her free time (not simultaneous although that would be impressive). Follow her on:

Twitter: @ChappyMargot

Google+: +Margot da Cunha

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/margotdacunha

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