Instagram bringing Branded Content Ads to Canada

Instagram today announced the global rollout, including Canada, of a new tool that lets advertisers convert influencers’ organic posts into ads. The move comes three weeks after the program’s June 4 introduction in the U.S.

In a recent blog post announcing Branded Content Ads, the photo/video sharing platform said that one of brands’ biggest requests is the ability to incorporate branded content posts into their advertising strategy.

Citing an Ipsos survey it commissioned last year, Instagram said that 68% of people come to the social media platform to interact with creators (the term it uses to describe influencers). “With branded content ads, businesses have the opportunity to tell their brand stories through creators’ voices, reach new audiences and measure impact,” it said.

Branded content ads for feed will be available in the coming weeks, said Instagram, with branded content ads for stories rolling out over the coming months. “This is just the beginning and we’ll continue to invest in branded content to provide even more value for people, creators and businesses,” it said.

Branded content ads appearing in feed and stories will be marked as “Paid partnership with…” along with the brand name on each post—which Instagram acknowledged as “very important” for ad transparency.

To enable the Branded Content Ads, influencers must grant the brands they work with permission to promote their posts by selecting the “Allow my business partner to boost” function on the Advanced Settings page. Brands will then see the post on the Ads Manager page under “Existing Posts,” and can choose to run it as an ad in either the feed or stories format.

Matt Ramella, managing director of media agency network Reprise, said the rollout of Branded Content Ads signals to the market that Instagram is serious about helping marketers harness the influential brand content being produced by creators.

“We’ve been asking platforms for greater measurement transparency and control when it comes to the promotion of creators’ posts across paid partnerships,” said Ramella in a statement provided to The Message. “With the ability for a brand to amplify content from influencers like any other ad, we’re now able to maximize brands’ investment by reaching the high value audiences most relevant to driving their business goals.”

Victoria Freeman, senior vice-president, social media and digital with North Strategic, described creator partnerships as a “core part” of the agency’s social strategy, and that Branded Content Ads help contextualize products in heretofore unexplored ways.

“Branded Content Ads are going to help our clients gain access to more refined performance data, help simplify the amplification process and create more transparency with our sponsored partnerships,” she said.

Branded Content Ads will allow brands to serve partner content to the right customers instead of simply throwing it into the “social ether,” she said. “Promoting content directly from an influencer’s handle inherently gives the post more authenticity than coming from a brand handle,” she added.

According to a recent report from Socialbakers, Instagram is quickly becoming the leading social platform when it comes to brand engagement, generating an average of 184.04 interactions per 1,000 followers.

The report said that nearly 25,000 Instagram profiles have posted sponsored content using the #ad hashtag in the first quarter of 2019. The report predicted that influencer marketing will be a US$10 billion business by 2020.

Another report from Statista said that Instagram’s global influencer marketing industry has grown from US$1.07 billion in 2017 to a projected US$2.38 billion this year.

Chris Powell