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Instagram tests new Shop Ads

Insta Shop Ads testing across beauty, pet product, travel and home decor

Another day, another piece of Instagram eCommerce news drops.

In a further investment in that side of its business, Insta says it'll launch Ads within Instagram Shops.

The new feature is currently in testing and includes options for an image carousel and single image adverts. The latest offering is being tested initially in the US before expanding it to other parts of the world. Testing is taking place across brands in the beauty, pet product, travel and home decor space.

Instagram hasn't said when this feature would expand across the globe, although it is not unfeasible to expect that Shop Ads could get a push before the big Black Friday/ Xmas rush, so watch this space.

The latest trial doesn't come as a surprise to many, for a general rule of thumb online is; where there is online discovery ads typically follow.

Search ads are obviously the best-known example, but even in online verticals there are comparative sponsored listings in Seek, Uber Eats, Amazon, Trip Advisor etc.

Expanded Instagram Shops offering

The new adverts sit within Instagram Shops, which was released in 2020 as parent company Facebook increased efforts to make its platforms a place to socially and commercially engage.

Part of that was to create an integrated checkout feature to make shopping on Instagram an entirely seamless experience for customers across the globe. Now that's in place, Shop Ads is a logical next step.

Instagram Shop adverts will launch as an auction-based model and will appear on mobile only. Ads will be shown to users based on their usage frequency and how many people are shopping at any given time.

Brands with product listings will be able to promote them on the Shop front page, and advertised products will be marked with a 'sponsored' disclaimer. Users who click on a sponsored product listing will be taken to a Product Details Page where they can see extra info and more images.

Instagram Ads galore 

One of the other benefits of the soon to be Shop Ads is in opening up Instagram's ad inventory.

At present, Instagram ads appear in people's Instagram feeds and Stories, along with content from the Instagram accounts and hashtags they follow and suggested accounts that are relevant to their interests.

Instagram ads can also appear in the Explore placement. Instagram Explore is where people can discover accounts that they don't already follow.

When someone taps on a photo or video in Explore, they may see ads during their browsing experience, similar to Instagram feed. Ads are not displayed in the Explore grid or the Explore topic channels.

Instagram ads can also appear in the IGTV placement, which is Instagram's destination for long-form video content. Reels Ads (short-form video) are currently rolling out.

Reels ads will appear full screen and vertical, similar to ads displayed in Stories, and will show between individual Reels.

Instagram for Business

"These ads will help businesses reach greater audiences, allowing people to discover inspiring new content from brands and creators."

Reels Ads will loop and can be up to 30 seconds in length. Users will be able to comment, view, save, like and share Reels ads, so make sure they're creative and entertaining! Reels ads will appear across:

  • Reels tabs
  • Reels in Stories
  • Reels in feed
  • Reels in Explore

Basically, everywhere people are discovering Instagram's short-form video, ads can be placed.

Shop Ads might also help improve Instagram's notoriously weak click-through rate (CTR).

In the first quarter of 2021, the median CTR in the Instagram Feed was only 0.35% – which is worse than LinkedIn!

Instagram Stories had a median CTR of 0.38%, while explore was 0.31%. This is all in all pretty underwhelming when compared to 1.2% in the Facebook News Feed.

While Instagram has a highly engaged user base, its ad products still leave a lot to be desired for more performance-focused marketers. By all accounts, Shop Ads look like a promising step in the right direction to help it claw budgets back from Facebook.

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