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Instagram doubles its advertiser base and argues brands shouldn't create ads that 'depend on sound'

Instagram Business Profiles

Instagram has more than doubled its advertiser base in six months, now reaching half a million monthly active advertisers.

The photo-sharing app, once a closed book to advertisers, has introduced a raft of new features over the last year designed to make it an advertiser’s playground.

Before September 2015 Instagram’s capabilities were available only to a select number of advertisers in eight countries. The platform heavily controlled the environment to let users adapt to ads in a controlled way.

Last September, it opened up its ad inventory in 200 countries to businesses of all sizes. Today (22 September), after one year of ironing out the nooks and crannies of what brands want out of Instagram, it is celebrating a huge uptake among businesses with more than half a million active monthly advertisers.

This is more than double its advertiser base six months ago. By comparison Facebook, which at 12 years old is double Instagram’s age, has 3 million monthly active advertisers. According to eMarketer's latest estimates on Instagram's ad business, this year the platform's ad revenues will account for 8.4 per cent of Facebook’s worldwide mobile ad business.

A new toolkit

To capitalise on the growth, Instagram unveiled its suite of analytics tools last month, giving advertisers the chance to analyse the profiles of those engaging with their brand for the first time, and the ability to refine campaigns down to very specific parameters.

Where before success was defined by likes, Business Tools gives advertisers access to impressions. The platform claims that since opening up its advertising platform last year, there have been 1 billion actions related to ads on Instagram.

Since Instagram launched Business Tools, more than 1.5 million businesses converted to a business profile. Most of these are smaller companies often using the network as their only advertising platform, with a few migrating content to its parent Facebook.

The top five advertising verticals on Instagram are consumer packaged goods, e-commerce, retail, entertainment and technology, according to its own research, with many of these in the startup phase.

Also in August, Instagram unveiled its latest consumer product, Stories, an offering strikingly similar to Snapchat’s product of the same name. It is not yet known how successful the uptake of Stories has been with brands and users, while Instagram has not commented so far on its similarity to Snapchat.

'Moving banners'

Snapchat response to the launch of Instagram Stories has been to prove its unique value to advertisers and consumers. The social network's chief strategy officer Imran Khan recently argued that its competitors are selling nothing short of "moving banners" by not putting enough emphasis on sound in video advertising, a point fundamental to Snapchat’s short form video proposition to both users and advertisers.

While Khan did not point to any platforms specifically, it is Facebook and Instagram’s autoplay feature that puts brands in the tricky position of creating a video campaign that works both with and without sound. Instagram’s head of brand development for EMEA, Amy Cole, told The Drum advertisers should create content that “doesn’t depend on sound” to “allow users to have control over their experiences”.