Opening up the mobile-advertising floodgates, Instagram is now offering its application programming interface to outside parties.
Brands and their developer teams can now plug their software directly into Instagram’s API. Among other efficiencies, this will allow brands to more easily plan, buy and execute their campaigns on the popular social network.
The plan, as Instagram recently made clear, is to release its API to a select group of Facebook Marketing Partners and agencies, then expand globally throughout the year.
As is their nature, Facebook’s marketing partners are putting the change in the most dramatic terms. “This is one the most anticipated moments in the evolution of advertising,” said Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks.
Incorporating the change into their projections, analysts are expecting big things from Instagram. eMarketer now expects the network's global mobile ad revenues to reach $2.81 billion -- or about 10% of Facebook's global ad revenues -- by 2017.
If accurate, Instagram will then have higher net mobile display ad revenues than both Google and Twitter. This year alone, Instagram will rack up $595 million in mobile ad revenue around the globe, eMarketer expects.
The research firm attributes the “rapid growth” to high demand for Instagram’s new ad products, which -- coupled with better measurement and targeting features -- are expanding beyond branding to include direct response and the ability to buy ads via API.
“Now that Instagram is opening up, there is a lot of pent-up demand,” Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, recently explained. “The roll out of new features over the next several months means that by the end of 2015, Instagram will have a host of new ad products for advertisers large and small.”
“In particular, Instagram advertisers will be able to use a full slate of Facebook targeting tools, including the popular Custom Audiences feature,” she added. “That will be a key drawing card.”
Over the past 18 months, Instagram has slowly rolled out a number of ad units. Most recently, it introduced Carousel ads, which encourage users to swipe left for additional images, and -- later in the “carousel” -- a link to a brand's mobile site.
So far, Instagram says its ad units have performed well. Across more than 475 campaigns measured globally with Nielsen Brand Effect, ad recall from sponsored posts on Instagram was nearly 300% higher than Nielsen's norms for online advertising.
According to Facebook, there are currently more than 2 million advertisers that actively use its network to market their businesses. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Instagram holds plenty of monetization potential. Yet, Facebook’s primary goal is to increase the quality of Instagram’s user experience, he said.
As for usership, Instagram's monthly domestic user base increased nearly 60% in 2014 to 64.2 million people, according to eMarketer.By 2019, over one-third of the country's population is expected to use the social network -- amounting to 111.6 million consumers.