Instagram’s New Trending Tags and Places Search Have Real Ad Potential

Now based on user content, they'll interest brands

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Instagram announced two updates today designed to allow users to more easily find content that interests them, and it's not hard to imagine advertising getting tucked into the features. 

The mobile app now has an Explore channel, which lets viewers check out Trending Tags—or popular hashtags—in a dedicated section that looks like a more visual version of Twitter's Trending Topics column. It's definitely built to encourage more conversation around buzzy happenings on Instagram.

While there's no word on whether Instagram has specific monetization plans for Explore, the development would seem to open the door for a new kind of contextual advertising on the social platform. They could be called "Promoted Tags," for instance.

Also, Instagram's search bar just got more useful—viewers can now query not only for people and hashtags but also places.

So, heavy Instagram users trying to decide between a fun trip to Amsterdam or Dublin can now employ the platform and its millions of photos to help them decide where to vacation. It's easy to imagine hospitality marketers wanting to jump in with contextual ads in these instances with either searchlike or native-style promos. 

Big brands seem to love the platform, and Instagram has been opening up the advertising spigot as of late. So, whether the Facebook-owned app moves to monetize the two new features anytime soon will be worth watching. 

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.