Instagram follows TikTok with enhanced ad formats and tools

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Dive Brief:

  • Instagram has added several new ad tools to its portfolio, including immersive features and a multi-advertiser format, per a company release.
  • Among the additions is a new advertising placement on the platform’s Explore homepage as well as enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to serve consumers with ads related to those they’ve interacted with.
  • Other tools include free music offered by the Meta Sound Collection library for use on Carousel Ads on Reels. The platform has also begun testing augmented reality features in both feed and Stories ads using its Spark AR platform.

Dive Insight:

Instagram’s latest ad additions follow suit to others looking to fine-tune their offerings ahead of the holiday season. In August, TikTok launched its Shopping Ads, which include three new ad formats aimed at simplifying product discovery and browsing for its users. Despite highs and lows in social commerce, primarily due to shifting privacy restrictions and a return to in-person shopping, Instagram seemingly is trucking ahead to making the social shopping experience as seamless as possible.

Aimed at enhancing the storytelling experience, Instagram’s addition of AR Ads, still in beta testing, could contribute to increased brand awareness through immersive experiences, allowing users to place virtual products within their own spaces thus driving engagement. Additionally, Instagram added a layer of convenience for advertisers with the addition of its free music library. The addition could help marketers select more intentional sounds, an aspect of content creation that brands are increasingly taking note of. Adding more storytelling tools could help bridge the gap of interest and action. However, Instagram Reels still isn’t pulling anywhere close to the levels of engagement seen on TikTok.

With Instagram’s new ad formats, advertisements will now appear on the Explore home grid and ads in non-teen, public profile feeds. Instagram is also enhancing its multi-advertiser ad delivery by using machine learning to serve users with ads that relate to other content they’ve engaged with. According to the company, adding multi-advertiser ads drove improved efficiency in incremental conversions per dollar spent. Additionally, research by Instagram found that 90% of its users follow at least one business on its platform, meaning that many are likely to be in the “mindset to be inspired by brands,” per release details. Still, while Instagram’s addition of enhanced ad displays could help sway potential Instagram advertisers, the app has recently gotten backlash for overwhelmingly ditching its authenticity lure, bogging down users’ feeds with content they would otherwise not be looking at.

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