October 2013 marked a special day for Instagram as it released its first ad ever. The beautiful Michael Kors gold watch beside a hazy plateful of colored macarons and a fancy cup of tea looked delightful to the followers. This image was unlike any other as the description read 'sponsored ad.' The picture spread over the platform like a wildfire and opened a plethora of new marketing strategies for different social media sites. It was the first time that a brand embarked on its digital marketing journey on Instagram through an ad via a striking picture. So let's look at the implications and consequences of the first Instagram ad.
What were the Implications?
Though the Instagram ad embedded a brilliant strategy, it brought forth many doubts in the minds of its users and creators. Several questions need to be answered.
1. How often will brands post sponsored ads on the platform?
2. What will be the growth rate of such brands after the ad release?
3. What's the difference between paid ads and unpaid ads?
4. Will the brand lose customers for promoting its products in a personal social media space?
The effect of an action is seen not right away but only after a while. Similarly, after the ad made news, some people went negative, and they felt their personal space was being evaded with marketing gimmicks. But what surprised the brand and allowed others to follow suit with sponsored ads is that the brand MK gained about 33,000 new followers and got a hike in the people's response over its latest post. They concluded that maybe not all people are critical about the brand pitching its way through Instagram to reach the target audience.
What's the Other Side?
There are always two sides to a coin, and hence we must analyze the consequence of action from all ways. When other brands like General Electric, Taco Bell, and Levi's came up with their respective sponsored ads, it wasn't all about reaching the target audience and creating a base. There has to be integration among the customer and marketer at some point for a successful impact. Instagram has a unique market position compared to its competitors like Facebook and Twitter, but the content must be strong and visually appealing for an ad to work here. Since Instagram has been selective at what it puts across, users have adapted to this strategy and have accepted it.
What's Different in Other Platforms?
The concept of online ads, of course, isn't new. Facebook and Twitter have been pioneers in displaying ads with the help of their cookies that reads customer preferences. But in Instagram, the ad is not about just expressing it; the marketing team works to create original content that connects. Additionally, there is also the beautification of visual ads.
Creating Visual Aids
Creators get sincerely involved in creating innovative content marketing so that the ad does not seem too pushy. The research says that people do not get attracted to the obvious and always look for original content that is entertaining or thought-provoking. Hence brands trying to win people's attention or earn it naturally must display finesse in their content.
Despite all this, there is always the question of return on investment. Because when advertisers spend money to build their presence on Instagram, they are making a call to reach out to people online rather than doing it in person. For such retailers, measuring the platform's functionality is of utmost importance, whereas it is about customer engagement and brand promotion for others.
What's in it For Instagram?
As brands engage users by being creative, Instagram pockets all the money to provide a platform. While users get enriched content and valuable information from such ads, retailers have some reservations about the whole process. They echo the same plight that the fashion influencers have put forth, i.e., the absence of a direct link to purchase merchandise on display. Instagram argued that its focus was not to take the audience out of its app entirely but attract people based on innovation. When brands impact users, they are bound to make a purchase, even if they have to chase the actual website for the product.
The research work was done when the Instagram ad feature had just started. Well, as we see, the struggle was real, and it took them a reasonable amount of time to make the platform what it is today-diverse and inclusive. From large scale to small businesses, brands have made their way through the challenges to see their accounts booming and followers growing.
Evolving through the old marketing methods, brands are paying influencers to become the face rather than known faces. This way, lead generation is significant as people connect better with influencers, and brands consciously manage their finance on social media marketing. Well, the good news from all of it is the direct impact that happens on ROI as you increase your sales post featuring an ad. The perspective of retailers has also been contained by adding direct links to the company's webpage. So now the interruption is none, but this brand building culture is hugely dependent on who makes catchy content.
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