Instagram Expands App Ads To 3 Countries

Instagram said on Monday it’s expanding advertising in the photo-sharing app outside the U.S., starting with Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

The Facebook-owned company introduced Sponsored Photos and Sponsored Videos last November with a handful of brands, including Levi’s, Ben & Jerry’s and Macy’s. The units allow people to Like and post comments on ads and hide those they aren’t interested in.

Instagram has provided few details on ad campaign performance to date, but said results have been positive. "In some cases, well above the ad industry’s average for performance." It credited feedback from users in helping to improve ads on Instagram.

Data released last month by Forrester found that organic brand posts on Instagram get far higher engagement than those on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. It suggested that was a result of less marketing competition, with 58% of companies (in the research sample) having a presence on Instagram compared to 94% on Facebook, and 82% on Twitter.

Instagram will roll out advertising internationally to the initial group of four countries before extending ads in the service to others. The company claims more than 200 million users globally, but it’s difficult to pin down by country. The app had 34.9 million users in the U.S. in 2013, according to an eMarketer estimate, meaning the vast majority  of users are international.

Debra Aho Williams, principal analyst, social media, at eMarketer, said Instagram’s expansion of ads to other English-speaking countries was a logical next step. But don’t expect it to rush that process. "Instagram has purposely been cautious about rolling out ads in the US, so I expect similar cautious and calculated programs in these countries,” she said.

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