Instagram Ads Off to a Strong Start (Report)

By David Cohen Comment

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An increase in demand for Instagram advertising during the second half of 2015 led to a corresponding price hike, according to new research from Brand Networks.

Instagram opened up its ads application-programming interface to advertisers last August, and Brand Networks, one of the initial participants in the Instagram Partner Program, found that:

  • Global average cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) jumped from $5.21 in September to $7.20 in November, before settling at $5.94 in December.
  • Total impressions served on Instagram via Brand Networks’ platform were 50 million in August, while ads on the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network were still in beta, and they doubled to 100 million in September, doubling again to 200 million in October and reaching more than 500 million in November and 670 million in December. Brand Networks said it expects to top 1 billion monthly ad impressions on Instagram during the first quarter of 2016.
  • Brand Networks’ clients in the consumer packaged goods, fashion and retail sectors spent roughly three times more on Instagram ads during the November and December holiday shopping season than they did during the summer and fall.
  • CPG advertisers saw CPMs average $4.92 during the holiday shopping season, while fashion brands paid a whopping $16.93 for 1,000 impressions. However, fashion saw cost per engagement of $2.93, compared with $3.91 for CPG.
  • Clickable Instagram share ads and photo ads performed well for retailers, delivering average CPEs of $1.40 and $3.22, respectively.
  • Video ads accounted for 22.52 percent of total Instagram ads served by Brand Networks in December, up from 9.54 percent in September.

Brand Networks also provided the following detailed timetable of the ramp-up of the holiday shopping season:

  • Early November, Nov. 10, 2015: Early November marks the start of a noticeable increase in spend for advertisers, with content ranging from holiday posts to Black Friday sneak peeks. One fashion advertiser used this date as an opportunity to get a head start by reaching more than 1 million global users in a single day.
  • Black Friday, Nov. 27: Retail advertisers served 7.5 million impressions on Black Friday with Brand Networks, more than twice November’s daily average of 3.3 million. Meanwhile, CPG advertisers focused on the three days leading up to Black Friday, with that time frame accounting for 25 percent of November’s 500 million impressions within the vertical.
  • Cyber Monday, Nov. 30: The biggest online shopping day of the year was all about video advertising, at least on Instagram. An impressive 91.5 percent of Cyber Monday’s 1.4 million retail impressions served by Brand Networks were a result of video ads.
  • Green Monday, Dec. 14: Holiday advertisers across verticals moved away from brand awareness toward direct-response strategies for Green Monday, focusing on clickable ads as the holiday shopping season wound down. Nearly 90 percent of all impressions on Green Monday came from clickable ads driving users to learn more and buy.
  • Free Shipping Day, Dec. 18: Consumers weren’t the only ones saving big on Free Shipping Day this year. Fashion brands got a good deal, too, as the average CPM for this vertical dropped to $3.68, nearly 50 percent less than the prior week’s daily average of $6.79.

Brand Networks founder and CEO Jamie Tedford said in a release introducing the study:

We anticipated that pent-up demand for programmatic, native advertising solutions on Instagram would drive rapid adoption and eventually scale. However, the pace and scale of investment from our clients in key verticals exceeded our expectations dramatically. This year, we expect brands from a wider variety of industries to invest heavily on the platform and experiment with a variety of ad formats—especially video—to stand out in the Instagram feed and reach valuable audiences. In addition to brand-building objectives, we’re also enabling more testing with direct-response ads, as social media users become more accustomed to CTA (call-to-action) buttons and more apt to engage in social commerce.

Video advertising on Instagram is rising to prominence incredibly quickly. Over the past six months, we’ve learned that users are willing to increase their time spent interacting with a brand when shown a short video clip. This is a game-changer for brands, as competition for eyeballs continues to increase on the platform. Brands that can offer this compelling video content stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

Readers: What did you think of the findings by Brand Networks?

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