Instagram Grows As A Social Advertising Channel

May 10, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Tablet | Video | Youth & Gen X

SocialFresh-Social-Networks-Used-for-Advertising-May2016Facebook is easily the most popular social channel for advertising, but Instagram seems to be gaining on more mature offerings, according to a new survey [download page]. The Social Fresh study – produced in collaboration with Firebrand Group and Simply Measured – found about 3 in 10 digital marketing respondents saying they advertise on Instagram at least once a month.

That leaves it only slightly behind the proportion (32.3%) who said they’re advertising on Twitter with that frequency.

In its Q1 2016 earnings release, Facebook noted that more than 200,000 businesses advertise on Instagram each month [pdf], although that pales in comparison to the more than 3 million active advertisers on Facebook.

Still, earlier this year, eMarketer forecast that 20.1% of Facebook’s burgeoning mobile ad revenues in the US would come from Instagram, almost double the proportion from last year (10.7%). By next year, Instagram is expected to account for more than one-quarter (28%) of Facebook’s US mobile ad revenues.

More recently, Kenshoo reported that among mobile app advertisers, Instagram comprised 14% of impressions and 17% of clicks in Q1 2016. Direct response advertisers appear to be seeing similar results from Instagram as they are from Facebook, even at this early stage. A Nanigans report [download page] analyzed consistent metrics from advertisers managing campaigns on both Instagram and Facebook over the same period of time. The study found these advertisers’ click-through rates to be the same on each platform (0.9%), with CPMs ($5.78 on Instagram) and CPCs ($0.65 on Instagram) also comparable.

Part of Instagram’s appeal is its skew towards youth, explains eMarketer in its forecast, noting that more than 6 in 10 Millennial smartphone users are expected to be Instagram users this year. However, Snapchat has a much younger base than Instagram: comScore data [download page] indicates that more than three-quarters (76%) of Snapchat’s adult user base is in the 18-34 bracket, as opposed to less than half (48.5%) of Instagram’s adult users. Snapchat has yet to draw as broad of an advertiser base, though, according to the Social Fresh survey results, which show just 4% of respondents advertising on Snapchat at least monthly.

Meanwhile, Instagram’s growth comes amidst a shift from free to paid content on social media. A recent report from Adobe Digital Index found that social media interaction rates are declining (that’s certainly true for Instagram), and may be shifting to paid placements. The analysts note that Facebook has promoted paid display ad interactions, which may have shifted budget and behavior from free social interactions to paid ads.

For the time being, advertising is taking up a fairly small share of social media marketers’ time. In estimating how much of their teams’ days are spent on various social tasks, the SocialFresh respondents figured that around 7% of their time is spent with social advertising and another 7% with influencer marketing. By comparison, they’re spending just upwards of 40% of their social time with strategy (planning, listening/monitory, and analytics) and more than 45% with execution (such as content development and publishing to social).

As for content development, the SocialFresh survey demonstrates that images remain the most popular type of content being produced by social media marketers. Almost 8 in 10 respondents produce image content at least once a month, compared to 58% creating blog posts with that regularity and 46% videos. That seems to align with effectiveness, at least on Facebook: in Q3 2015, image posts on Facebook generated an interaction rate about twice that of videos (3.5% vs. 1.7%), per Adobe Digital Index data.

Beyond images, blog posts and videos, the survey found that infographics (27%), contests (21%) and Snapchat stories (15%) are also seeing some use, though fewer are regularly producing livestream videos (8%) and podcasts (7%).

About the Data: The Social Fresh report is based on a survey of 551 digital marketers whose responsibilities include social media marketing. Respondents came from brands (64%), agencies (30%) and vendors (6%). The education (11.5%) and non-profit (8.7%) industries were the most heavily represented. A majority (64.4%) of respondents are from the US, with another 7.1% from Canada.

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