Instagram Is Now Letting Marketers Use Videos in Its Swipeable Carousel Ads

Airbnb, Taco Bell and IBM among launch partners

Instagram is bringing videos to its Carousel ad format, allowing marketers to pick five videos—or a combination of videos and photos—for users to swipe through. Launch partners include Airbnb, Taco Bell, Hollister, IBM and W Hotels. (Above is an example from Airbnb.)

The new format is an extension of Instagram's existing carousel ads for photos that the company unveiled in March 2015. According to James Quarles, Instagram's global head of business and brand development, the platform's video views have increased 40 percent in the past six months.

"The reason why we're excited for video carousel ads is this format gives marketers creative flexibility to tell richer stories on Instagram," Quarles said. "We consistently hear from businesses that the hardest thing for them to do—particularly as people spend so much time in digital and on mobile—is to capture people's attention."

Quarles said Carousel ads have shown that swipeable series perform better than single, static images. He said Instagram's internal studies have shown an increase in ad recall, and from a performance standpoint, such ads have driven a 58 percent lift in conversation rate.

"We think this combination of video and carousel is very powerful," Quarles said. "The immersive nature of sequential video allows people to be inspired by a business and then progressively learn more about how it fits into their life."

Meanwhile, the size and scope of Instagram continues to grow, with more than 400 million active users spending an average of 21 minutes a day on the platform. During parent company Facebook Inc.'s first-quarter earnings call last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said more than 200,000 businesses advertise on Instagram every month.

Facebook and Instagram are now looking for new ways to engage users, including adding an algorithm that reorders the images and videos users see in their feeds. (Zuckerberg said users miss 70 percent of what's in their feed.)

Per a report from eMarketer, adults in the U.S. this year will spend an average of 43 minutes a day on social networks. However, the growth of time spent on social networks is expected to slow over the next three years, increasing just a few minutes by 2018.

"Facebook continues to see increases in time spent on mobile largely due to increased engagement with video," said eMarketer forecasting analyst Monica Peart. "Of course, Facebook has also been facing competition from other fast-growing social networks like Snapchat and cannibalization from its own property, Instagram. With other social networks investing heavily in making video a core feature of their platforms, their collective time spent will begin to challenge that of Facebook."

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.