Instagram Fuses Its Two Fave Things: Ads & Influencers
Instagram is in the process of launching its first, dedicated, influencer marketing advertising product, ‘Branded Content Ads’.
The new feature will offer a new way for brands to sponsor posts created by celebrities and publishers. The solution was announced last week at a breakfast for advertisers and influencers in the US, and it expected to launch soon.
Ashley Yuki, an Instagram product management lead, said the feature had been under development since 2018.
‘Brands are seeing that this branded content ad product sometimes helps overcome challenges they have with organic branded content.’
With influencer marketing forecast to grow 50% in 2019, Instagram’s latest update comes at an opportune time. Influencer marketing is now a multi-billion dollar industry, however, the platforms which host them receive little directly.
More directly, paid influencer monies tend to get chopped up between:
- Influencer themselves
- ‘Talent’ managers or influencer marketplaces
- Occasional influencer tech solutions
Obviously, indirectly platforms do OK.
Successful influencers know how to generate and maintain attention, which keeps users looked in and scrolling through social feeds. Platforms then simply wrap ads around this content.
However, with an estimated 500,000 influencers on Instagram worldwide alone, it is not difficult to see the scope of the opportunity available for platforms.
‘Creators’ Are The New Influencers
First things first, Facebook doesn’t like the moniker influencer, instead preferring ‘Creators’.
Which SMK also agrees is a better positioning.
With over half a million so-called influencers on Instagram, it’s perhaps fair to say they won’t all be equally influential. As in, actually possessing the ability to mould behaviour.
Only a very small percentage can do this, much like with real-world celebrity endorsements.
That said, while many influencers lack the ability to reliably change behaviour, they usually are good at making sticky content, which reaches their audiences. And often beyond.
Hence Creators probably makes more sense than Influencers.
At last week’s talk, Facebook not only announced the new Instagram Branded Content Ads but also provided a sneak peek of the new Creator Profiles rolling out.
Existing influencers, sorry creators, will have to apply to access the Creator Profiles.
At present, it is unclear how this will work, although, like all new features, it’ll probably start with a small-ish pool of big-hitters before being extended to the masses.
It will also be interesting to see how this impacts the Instagram algorithm, as to whether there will be any favouring for Creators?
Paid Influencer Ads For Now & Forever
It is already possible to run sponsored influencer activity in Instagram and Facebook, and most other social channels, but it’s very clunky.
- Influencer and client agree to work together
- Influencers grants client (or often their agency(s)) access to their social profile
- The influencer’s social profile can then be synced to client ad account, from which ads can be run
- Ads appear for influencers followers, and beyond, as if from influencer, but really ad campaign is managed, billed and run from client ad account
- Campaign should be fully disclosed as a sponsored promo
New Branded Content Ads should make the whole thing much easier.
While there are multiple ways to implement promoted influencer activity, none are as easy as running regular ads.
Examples like above, are very labour intensive and also leave all involved a little exposed. Should something go haywire.
The move can also be viewed as Instagram safe-guarding the future of influencer marketing.
It is inevitable that the high organic reach Instagram influencers currently enjoy will not last.
Rapid user growth, combined with very small mobile phone screens puts big pressures on social feeds. Check out a fresh-faced Zuck explaining the above phenomenon eight years ago.
Erstwhile known as Zuckerberg’s Law.
Branded Content Ads will allow influencers and clients to leverage the social equity they built in the 2014 – 2019 glory days, of easy Instagram organic reach, for many years to come.
The only question is, will anyone listen in 2025 when influencers are not fully-shredded any more, balding and middle-aged…