Instagram Touts Early Ad Results, Campaigns Up Reach

After launching advertising last month, Instagram on Thursday highlighted results from initial campaigns run so far on the photo- and video-sharing service. The goal is to convince other brands that spending on the company’s native ad placements is worthwhile -- especially for reaching a younger demographic.

To that end, Instagram’s analysis focused on traditional brand metrics such as reach, ad recall and awareness rather than typical social engagement ones, such as comments, likes and followers. With Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, marketers and agencies have long questioned the value of simply racking up “likes.”

The company said each of the four campaigns studied -- two of which came from Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s -- delivered the broad reach desired. Specifically, Levi’s reached 7.4 million people in the U.S. during a nine-day period targeting users ages 18 to 34. The apparel maker’s campaign featured images of Levi’s-clad young folks in eye-catching locales.

“Ads on Instagram are designed to support brands focused on reaching large audiences with memorable, high quality content. We think this aligns with the way people and brands already use Instagram -- sharing photos and videos that capture a moment, inspire others, or shift perceptions,” stated an Instagram blog post today.

Ben & Jerry’s, whose campaign was aimed at building awareness for its new Scotchy Scotch Scotch flavor, reached 9.8 million people over nine days, going after the 18-35 segment. “Ads on Instagram let us reach and engage with more fans about our flavors, fun and values,” stated Mike Hayes, digital marketing manager for the ice cream maker, in the case study.

When it came to ad recall, each of the campaigns saw a 32-point incremental lift in ad recall per campaign for people who were repeatedly exposed to a particular campaign versus control groups. There was also a 10-point increase in brand awareness for people who were repeatedly exposed to a specific campaign versus control groups.

In particular, 17% of people who saw a single Ben & Jerry’s ad not only became aware of its new flavor but associated it with the brand. (Each of the campaigns involved only photo-based ads, not sponsored video.)

“While these initial results are promising, we believe that early campaigns may benefit from an overall increase in awareness of ads on Instagram due to their recent introduction,” stated Instagram. In other words, they may have benefited from the novelty factor.

The company said it will continue to optimize its ad products as it learns more from other campaigns. Instagram didn’t name the advertisers behind the other two campaigns among the four analyzed, but the initial group of marketers on the platform includes adidas, Macy’s, Michael Kors, General Electric, PayPal and Starwood.

The company has taken a cautious approach to advertising, so as not to alienate its 230 million active users. People might see photos or videos in their feeds from brands they don’t necessarily follow, but all paid placements feature a “Sponsored” label in the upper right corner to separate them from regular posts. Users also have the option of hiding ads by tapping an elipses (…) icon at the bottom.

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