Instagram Brings Ads to U.K., Canada and Australia

Global expansion of nascent biz

Instagram ads are going international. The company announced today that it would start delivering ads to users outside the United States. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are the first countries in line.

The photo-sharing network only launched sponsored posts last year with paid messages from marketers like Ben & Jerry’s, Levi’s and Taco Bell.

“Since introducing ads last November, we've worked with a handful of top brands to draw creative inspiration from the community and create ads that were engaging and felt natural in people’s feeds,” Facebook said today announcing the international expansion.

Facebook, which owns the image-rich platform, is trying to be careful not to flood the network with too much commercialization too quickly, and when it does, it controls the content heavily.

"It's a logical next step for Instagram to roll out advertising in these English-speaking countries, enabling global brand advertisers to extend their Instagram efforts outside the U.S.," said Debra Aho Williamson, principal social media analyst, eMarketer. "Instagram has purposely been cautious about rolling out ads in the U.S., so I expect similar cautious and calculated programs in these countries."

Advertisers are interested in reaching Instagram’s 200 million-plus users, many of them young, and see the branding potential in visual storytelling within the mobile app. Also, the majority of the audience is outside the U.S., eMarketer said.

“[Global expansion is] such a tremendous opportunity for U.S. brands to take their messages globally on a fun and organic platform as well as offer smaller, country-specific brands, global reach,” said Ben Hordell, partner at DXagency, which helps handle campaigns for HBO, DirecTV, Sears and Kmart. “The marketing possibilities are exciting, and the ROI for a brand, on a platform such as Instagram, are off the charts.”