Branded Content Ads Will See Instagram Influencer Spend Explode
Instagram advertisers can now convert organic influencer posts into ads, with the launch of its new Branded Content Ads.
As SMK featured in March, the new ad product has been under development with select brands since 2018 and will be available to all advertisers in the coming weeks.
For the launch, branded content ads are limited to Instagram Feed placements, with Stories to follow later. No doubt becoming ever more insidious through 2019/2020.
Generally speaking, ad units which are native in design massively out-perform more traditional ad units in most channels. See Google’s latest search results redesign and the even more subtle look and feel of search ads, as another recent example.
Amplifying influencer content in this way on Instagram has been possible for some time, albeit via workarounds.
Results can be significantly better than standard ad campaigns since the brand often flies under the radar via its influencer relationship, ensuring lower CPMs and higher engagement rates.
An excellent local example would be Hello Fresh’s tie-up with Celeste Barber.
Issues With Setting Up Branded Content Ads
Set up is simple enough, although somewhat clunky, with both influencers and advertisers alike having to tinker with back-end settings.
First, branded content creators (i.e. Influencers) need to enable their business partners to promote their post as an ad, which they can do in Advanced Settings.
Once they do this, the business partner (i.e. Advertiser) will see the post on Ads Manager under Existing Posts and can choose to run it as an ad in feed or stories format.
The slight issue with the simple scenario above is the latter portion.
Of the millions of advertisers active on Facebook and Instagram, only a small percentage are confident navigating Ads Manager. Not that it is difficult, more just unfamiliar.
Many advertisers default to running ads by boosting posts via profile shortcuts. Therefore, until branded content ads are built into the basic admin interface uptake will perhaps be somewhat stifled as a result.
That said, Facebook Ads Manager is a relatively intuitive system, especially when compared to Google Ads Manager. Through 2019 Facebook is redesigning Ads Manager, and Facebook Business Manager, so hopefully the upcoming changes will further streamline.
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
On the surface, influencers should be stoked.
With much greater scale, they can finally give up their tiresome office jobs and economics degrees and get paid to live their best life. YOLOing to their heart's content.
The new branded content ads will bring an unprecedented degree of performance measurement, shining a light on the good ones and damning the fraudsters. Especially given the ad data will be viewable in the clients’ Facebook Ads Manager…
At this time, Branded Content ads are available for the following ad objectives:
- Brand Awareness
- Video Views
- Post Engagement
With more ad objectives in the pipeline for later this year.
Bugs & Quirks At Launch
Although brands and influencers will welcome the move, there are a few annoying features at launch. Some will likely get addressed, but some may not.
For example, it is not possible to explicitly target the creator’s audience at the moment. Whether or not this will be added in time is questionable, but no doubt something advertisers want.
It is possible that a creator’s followers will see the ad if they fall into an advertiser’s standard ads targeting. However, one of the benefits of working with someone like Celeste Barber is unlocking her community, so this is something many will grumble about.
Similarly, it is also not possible for advertisers to moderate comments for branded content ads.
Again, sticking with our Celeste Barber example above, is it practical, or even realistic, to expect her to take time out of her schedule to manage people whinging about Hello Fresh box deliveries? Probably not.
In which case, how does this work?
No doubt, both brands and influencers will need to rejig the small print on their engagement contracts to take into account the good and bad of branded content ads.
What a time to be alive.
Branded content ads are live now and rolling out worldwide for Instagram advertisers.