Instagram Will Test Back-to-Back Stories Ads From Different Brands

The photo- and video-sharing network insisted that user experience remains priority No. 1

two women holding mobile phones and looking at photos
Instagram wants to understand the right frequency for user value when it comes to Stories ads grinvalds/iStock

Instagram kicked off a test Wednesday in which a “small percentage” of users will see Instagram Stories ads from two different advertisers back-to-back.

A spokesperson for parent company Facebook said the goal is to see if back-to-back Stories ads from different brands provides a more seamless experience for users and to gather feedback, adding that the company’s focus remains squarely on user experience, with the platform’s value for advertisers representing the next factor.

Instagram’s test comes at an interesting time for the photo- and video-sharing network, as questions have emerged recently about the ad load in its main feed.

Colleagues at Adweek have reported seeing more ads in their main Instagram feeds, and Amy Gesenhues of Marketing Land recently shared similar observations from both colleagues and marketers.

Gesenhues reported that her colleague found that ads accounted for nearly one-quarter of both posts in Instagram feed and Stories, while Facebook and Instagram ads consultant Peter Stringer told her he was seeing ads roughly after every three organic posts in his feed.

A Facebook spokesperson said in an email earlier this month, “We are always improving upon the ad experience. Ad load fluctuates based on how people use Instagram. We closely monitor people’s sentiment both for ads and overall commerciality.”

Facebook would not share specifics about the impact on ad load for people in the test group, with a spokesperson reiterating that it wants to understand the right frequency for user value when it comes to Instagram Stories ads.

The spokesperson pointed out that 80% of people on Instagram follow at least one business, and ads are one way for people to learn more about brands and their products. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.