Instagram Ads Arrive in the UK: Everything You Need to Know

Author Zara Burke

Recently Instagram users in the UK saw sponsored adverts appear in their newsfeeds for the first time. Yes, Instagram ads have officially arrived. Initially, the paid ads will only be available to “a handful of specially selected brands” who are already valuable members of the Instagram UK community. These brands include big names like Starbucks, Cadbury, Channel 4, Rimmel London, Sony Music, Estée Lauder and Waitrose.

The team at Instagram have a very specific vision, saying “We want ads on Instagram to be as engaging and high quality as the experience of flipping through a favourite magazine.”

But exactly what do businesses need to know about the new ad rollout? We’ll tell you how Instagram’s sponsored ads work, what they look like and the results they’ve achieved to date.

1. How Do They Work?

Instagram is keen to deliver relevant and personal ads by taking into account its users’ likes and follows. It also plans to use geotargeting to ensure the ads reach the most relevant audience possible. In addition to using their own information, Instagram will use data users have provided on Facebook like gender age and interests to target specific ads to potentially interested people. Instagram says this is, “to ensure Instagrammers receive relevant and interesting ads without making them fill out more information about themselves on Instagram.”

2. What Do They Look Like?

Levis | Instagram Ads Arrive in the UK: Everything You Need to Know

Instagram works with advertisers closely to ensure that each piece of ad creative is of a high quality. Ads must be visually appealing and non-invasive to “fit in with the aesthetic of the platform.” The retro-image based social media site also aims to ensure that its ad platform rolls out slowly and will focus on delivering “a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos.”

Brands are told to stay clear of logos, stock photography, and text-heavy images and instructed to focus on stunning and simple photography instead. The main aim? The ad style should reflect the layout of a premium magazine. Although the ads will be non-invasive for users, they will clearly be labelled as ‘Sponsored’ so users can tell the difference between paid and organic posts.

3. How Have the Ads Performed to Date?

The ad rollout in the US has proven quite successful to date. Taco Bell achieved a 29% point gain in ad recall when it launched its US breakfast menu in April. The fast food chain enjoyed engagement rates of up to 400% compared to its organic posts.

According to Union Metrics, Taco Bell’s Instagram following rose to 45% during its month long paid campaign. The same data company revealed that Instagram advertisers like Michael Kors and Ben and Jerry’s enjoyed 60% higher engagement rates as a direct result of their paid campaigns.

4. What’s Next?

Instagram has yet to announce when it will launch its paid platform in other countries (the ads are currently active in the UK, US, Australia and Canada). The sponsored ads have indeed proven successful to date. However, it will be interesting to see the impact they have when rolled out globally and to smaller brands. We’ll keep you posted.

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Zara Burke