In an attempt to open up a new revenue cycle for its site — and take advantage of its huge 300 million user base — Instagram has launched a new campaign that enables the ability to buy items through the site, using a “Shop Now” set-up.
Adweek is reporting that the popular photo-sharing app will launch the ads within its service, featuring the “Shop Now” buttons as well as other messages that provide links to outside sites, so users can shop around for particular items while sifting through their photo feeds. In addition, the site also introduced a new API software platform that allows marketing partners to set up their own automated advertising process.
With the API, these companies can manage, track and measure marketing campaigns with ease, using technology originally supplied by parent company Facebook.
“We have benefitted greatly from being a part of Facebook,” said James Quarles, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development. “It would have taken us years to build this tech stack for ourselves. So, we’re fortunate to be able to take select pieces of Facebook’s tech stack.”
This campaign utilizes customizable commercial content that blends into photo feeds without disrupting them, similar in pattern to Facebook’s ads appearing on a user’s page, but without getting too much in the way of their daily social feeds with friends. It already has several big names on board, including Disney, Electronic Arts, Ben and Jerry’s and Taco Bells, with a combination of magazine-style photos, 15-second videos and animated GIF’s.
This does bring an interesting change to the site, however, linking people to other sites outside of it for the first time. “It’s an ideal platform to shop on as it’s so visual and fashion oriented,” said Old Navy media director Michele Schuh, speaking with Adweek. “We’re thrilled that Instagram is now offering users the ability to click directly through to a product, creating instant gratification without any cumbersome steps.”
That said, some were wondering as to why Instagram would take so longer to embrace such a program, with CEO Kevin Systrom and his company figuring out the right way to approach such tactics. “It wasn’t a question of whether or not they’d do it; we’re surprised that they held out so long,” said Siobham O’Neill, vice president of social strategy for Ayzenberg. “It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Instagram can stay true to its mission, which is that beautiful visual experience they’re known for. The click-to-buy within the platform is something a lot of users — particularly in fashion — have wanted for a long time, so this is a win for them.
“But if Instagram stops being thoughtful and starts cluttering up the feed with intrusive ads that don’t add to the experience, then they’re going to irritate their core audience and — most importantly — its most vibrant creators. In my view, Facebook hasn’t historically done a great job of managing its ads’ impact on the user experience, despite their best efforts to collect data via self-reported features, so it’ll be interesting to see how Instagram approaches this. Of note, I also think that this means that the Instagram influencer is more vital and important than ever — brands and advertisers will have to develop creative partnerships with credible, authentic voices, which are not nice-to-haves, but must-haves, in the medium.”
Only time will tell if the program will be a success, but considering that Facebook has two million advertisers that could easily work their way into the program, it’s certainly worth the opportunity. “Its not enough to just inspire; you want people to be able to take action,” added Jason Stein, CEO of Laundry Service, which operates with a number of brands, such as Beats by Dre and Jordan, through Instagram campaigns. “I can’t tell you how many people are saying on big brands’ posts, ‘How do I buy this ‘ There is a demand that people want to take action.”