Instagram ads, just six months old and limited to a select group of 15 brands, are already showing promising results, according to exclusive data given to Adweek by the social photo-sharing site. Internal performance figures on ad partners Taco Bell, Ben & Jerry’s and Hollister provide a peek under the hood of how this platform will fare when it goes wide in late spring. More ads are on the way, thanks to Instagram’s $40 million megadeal with Omnicom.
Taco Bell saw a 29 percentage point gain in ad recall for the April rollout of its breakfast menu, per data from Instagram’s user panel that pits a control group against a test group. The fast-food chain’s promos sometimes got engagement rates 400 percent higher compared to its organic posts. According to Union Metrics, Taco Bell’s Instagram following—currently at 411,000—jumped 45 percent during its monthlong ad campaign. The data company also reports that Instagram advertisers—including Michael Kors and Ben & Jerry’s—are averaging 60 percent higher engagement rates for their organic posts in the three days following their paid promos.
Juliet Corsinita, Taco Bell marketing vp and head of media, said the ads performed particularly well with young men. “It was a delight for us that we reached that elusive audience,” Corsinita explained. “We felt like this was a great investment, one that complemented our overall media strategy.”
Hollister, which was the first teen-focused brand to test the ad unit, saw its promo for a spring line of girls’ dresses achieve an ad recall lift of 32 percentage points.
“It’s one of the best visual platforms for social,” said Craig Brommers, Hollister svp of marketing. “The initial budget was modest, but based on the success, we are going to increase the spend as we head into summer.”
Still, not all youth-oriented brands may sign on, particularly those already enjoying killer organic engagement such as Red Bull and GoPro. “They’re already repurposing video clips and photos from their other channels and providing content that their audiences are highly interested in and want to engage with,” said Liz Eswein, executive director at digital shop Laundry Service.
“The level of [brand] investment depends on how Instagram develops the ad product,” noted Eric Perko, vp, director of media, at DigitasLBi, which led Taco Bell’s effort. When Instagram rolls out video ads, which are expected later this year, it could further bolster revenues. “Anything with video is of interest to Taco Bell,” Corsinita asserted.
Meanwhile, corporate giants like Philips are waiting to give Instagram’s ads a shot. “We’ve had huge organic success on Instagram in Thailand,” remarked Blake Cahill, head of digital at Philips. “And we are constantly experimenting with how paid can amplify our global content.”