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VOL. 41 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 6, 2017

Marketers ratcheting up Instagram investment

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In a hot-off-the-presses study by eMarketer, marketing professionals have spoken with gusto about their intended 2017 investments in Instagram.

It was just September 2015 when Instagram opened up advertising opportunities. However, the company is on track to bring in more than $1.85 billion in ad revenue this year, and that revenue is predicted to rise to $2.73 billion in 2017.

Similarly, a poll of U.S. marketers conducted by Advertising Age and RBC Capital Markets found that 30 percent of respondents were currently leveraging Instagram advertising and an additional 31 percent plan to do so in 2017.

Working in Instagram’s favor is its ownership by Facebook, making it easy for advertisers to simply extend their existing Facebook advertising buys across the photo-sharing platform.

Instagram hasn’t broken through, yet, as a leader in video content or video advertising, but considering Facebook’s emphasis on it, you have to assume a pivot in focus is coming. Brands also are investing heavily in influencer marketing on Instagram, upwards of $500 million a year, by directly paying influencers to promote their products there.

In the first quarter of 2016, eMarketer asked ad agency professionals what social platforms they were most likely to use for client campaigns in the coming year, and nearly all respondents cited Facebook, 67 percent named YouTube, 63 percent mentioned Instagram, 56 percent cited Twitter and 41 percent said LinkedIn.

It’s surprising to see Instagram outpacing Twitter, considering Instagram only launched advertising a few months prior to this study and Twitter began more than six years ago.

Instagram ad performance is still mixed, as the site tinkers with ad formats and delivery methods that will generate the highest levels of engagement without interrupting the user experience.

Despite its efforts to improve engagement, there is a general consensus among marketers that Instagram is currently best for brand awareness and not direct response. This belief is based largely on the state of mind of users when they access Instagram, as they are usually looking for inspiration, not action.

The mobile-centric nature of the platform also factors in. Direct response advertising is more likely to succeed on platforms where users often have full keyboard access, such as on a laptop, since that makes the shopping experience easier.

This could evolve over time, but for now, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations for your Instagram advertising. Instagram is highly conducive to users liking, sharing and commenting on your advertising content, but you should note that the average cost per click of Instagram ads is generally more than double Facebook with a third fewer clicks on average per ad.

If your brand is conducive to inspirational or aesthetically appealing visuals and you want to raise consumer awareness and consideration for your brand, then Instagram may very well be the right social platform for you.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.

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