Within digital marketing, Facebook is largely seen as a direct-response advertising platform while Instagram is used primarily for branding. Today, Mercedes is sharing results from a social-heavy campaign, claiming to be the first brand to run Instagram and Facebook ads in tandem.
While Mercedes has been on Instagram since 2012, the brand leaned heavily on the platform to launch its GLA compact SUV this year. Influencers then took photos of what they'd bring for a weekend trip, with items displayed on the trunk mat of the car.
The car brand claims to be the first to leverage Facebook and Instagram ads that supported the campaign. Direct response-heavy promos on Facebook included a link to a website to learn more about the car, while Instagram ads played up the visuals.
"We're not just throwing money at the platform—we're really trying to see what's going to break through and get engagement from our audience," said Eric Jillard, general manager of marketing services at Mercedes.
Per Mercedes, people who only saw the branding-focused ads on Instagram and Facebook generated 54 percent more Web visits to Mercedes' website than a control group that was not served an advertisement.
Then, Mercedes looked at the impact from seeing the branding-focused ads on both Facebook and Instagram followed by the direct-response ads. The combination increased visits to the site by 580 percent. Specifically on Instagram, ads increased brand recall by 14 percent.
"It's very much a branded campaign still. It's just bringing awareness in Facebook to what we're doing on Instagram," Jillard said. "Up until this campaign, you couldn't buy reach in Instagram—the only reach you would get in Instagram was the people who followed you or the people that 'liked' content."
While Instagram is still largely a platform for branding, the strategy positions of the social app are more akin to direct-response marketing.
"What you've seen is this area between branding and DR have converged in a lot of ways," said Matt Jacobson, Instagram's head of market development.