6th October 2022
Meta is launching new advertising placements and formats on Instagram, as well as testing an AR experience, as the company looks to maximise its ad revenues as it seeks to reverse a downward revenue trend.
In an announcement this week, Meta introduced new advertising formats for Instagram and Reels; Explore home ads, profile feed ads, AI-powered multi-advertiser ads, post-loop Reel ads, and image carousel Reels.
The ads in Explore home, the grid that people see when they first arrive on the Explore tab, are intended to reach IG users ‘in the earliest stages of discovering new content they care about’. Users would see ads immediately when they go to the Explore tab even without engaging with a post or scrolling.
Similar to Twitter, Instagram is also testing placing ads in the profile feed, which is the feed a user sees and can scroll through when they visit another account’s profile and tap on a post. Ads would be inserted within this stream between posts. The company is also looking at this as a monetisation opportunity for creators so they can earn extra income from ads that are displayed in their profile feeds. For now, this offer is just for select creators in the US. Hopefully, Meta’s focus on brand safety works out better than Twitter’s test into this placement which ran into big brand safety issues last week.
The third ad type Instagram is testing is ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’ which are powered by machine-learning. When a person engages with an ad, it will deliver ads underneath from other businesses that might be of interest to that person. Meta has not yet provided more context about which ads/brands could be shown together, which may be a flag for advertisers.
In addition to these 3 new ad products, Instagram has also launched an open beta of its AR ads, which will be available in both Feed and Stories and would allow users to interact with the ad content. Meta said: ‘by giving businesses tools to create more personalized and immersive experiences today we’ll help them drive performance and prepare for the metaverse’.
New ad products are not limited to Instagram, Meta also revealed ad updates to Reels. The company’s struggle to monetize its short form video offering was a big contributing factor in its Q2 decline, so it will be pinning its hopes on the shorter ‘post-loop’ ads now being tested on Facebook Reels. This new format of 4 to 10 second skippable ads and stand-alone video ads will play after a Reel has ended, when the ad has finished the Reel will resume and loop again.
Meta will also test horizontal scrolling ‘image carousel’ ads in Facebook Reels that will accommodate up to 10 image ads and appear at the bottom of Facebook Reels content. Image carousel ads sound very similar to Snap’s successful ad placement, Collection Ads, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can compete. Meta hopes these changes will help “lure Reels creators with ways to earn money from ad placements next to their videos”, which will in turn help to boost user engagement of Reels.
Meta is doubling down on its ad products, looking to AI to serve more relevant ads and leaning further into Reels to try and drive revenue at a time when the company is under pressure to increase monetisation. Whilst all these new products provide plenty of opportunities for brands to get in front of new audiences at relatively low new barriers to entry, it is how they will be received by users that is the real test - will they respond well to seeing more ads in their feeds?