Instagram has revealed the first ad formats for its fledgling Stories section of the app and has already courted Asos, Nike and Airbnb as the first of 30 advertisers to get on board.
Launched last August, Instagram Stories is not unlike Snapchat Stories in the sense that it allows users to share a chronological slideshow of videos and pictures with their friends on the platform which disappear after 24 hours.
The ad formats set to be introduced are identical to the way users can create a Story – either images, videos or a mixture of both – and will appear in a user’s feed of Stories with a simple ‘sponsored’ message at the bottom.
The ads will be full screen, play with the sound automatically on, and users will also be able to skip by swiping.
For image only, the will appear for five seconds while a video can last as long as 15.
“More than 150 million people are now using Instagram stories everyday. That’s grown 50 million in the past three months and it’s opened a whole new side of what people share on Instagram,” James Quarles, vice-president of Instagram business told The Drum.
“And businesses are behind a third of the most viewed Stories. They’re using it to share experiences and deepen the connection.”
Instagram doesn’t have a specific number in set for how many ads might appear in a users Stories timeline but has put a limit on the number of times someone can see an ad from a single brand within a given time frame.
“Similar to how we managed [introducing adverts] on the homepage side, we’ll be watching sentiment measure and product measures of people interacting to track the number of times they exit, that will be the main signal.”
Asos' campaign will run in the UK and US from 24 January using the video function to showcase its party wear range.
“Instagram is a key channel for us here at Asos. We’ve seen a great deal of success over the past year with landing our brand messaging through video content formats, which are naturally engaging and emotive ways to speak to our audience, and have been impressed with the early signs of success we’ve seen with Instagram Stories," said Leila Thabet, content and engagement director at Asos.
This the latest weapon in Facebook’s armour to prevent ad dollars from shifting to rival Snapchat. At its launch, Stoties promised to offer a more candid, 'no frills' approach to social media that Snapchat helped galvanize.
Brands now want the same, as evidenced by the reports that Snapchat is on course to see revenue reach $1bn this year.
“The convergence of social media platforms continues as everyone chases the same user bases and advertising budgets," said Edie Greaves, senior strategist at Possible.
"It’s unlikely that this new format will have a large impact on spend with Snapchat: the increase in supply of social video space may have a downwards pressure on price but as the media is negotiated on a campaign-wide scale, it’s unlikely to be significant."
Greaves mused that where Facebook will win out is in its ability scale across its entire network.
"Instagram Story promotions sound like a driver of awareness that will need to be supported through other placements across the Facebook network. And that is where Instagram has the upper hand; the power to buy audiences in the way that you can on the Facebook network is unmatched by the even more secretive workings of Snapchat.”