Instagram's ad moves will give payments a boost

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Instagram has opened the door for retailers of all sizes to land a spot on their hub for influencers. Are we in a retailer’s dream, or did Instagram finally give brands of all sizes the ability to land a spot on the platform’s influencer hub?

Instagram will begin to incorporate ads to the Explore section, which is where users go to discover new personalized content. Rather than bombard users with paid content, ads will appear once a user taps on a post and scrolls through similar imagery.

The feature goes hand-in-hand with the launch of Instagram Shopping, which allows users to purchase a product directly from a brand’s post. The new marketplace becomes even more valuable with Explore ads because retailers can pay the platform to broadcast their new virtual storefront to a more impressionable audience.
Instagram understands it’s not just about giving users what they want, but also when they want to see it. Rather than interject ads into photo streams of users’ friends and family, Explore ads should complement the type of content users already enjoy on their feed. And with the shopping feature, users can explore and shop in a matter of clicks.

Between the new shopping feature and Explore ads, Instagram has created a virtual one-stop shop for retailers. Instagram’s frictionless buying channel grants retailers increased opportunities to showcase their products to an audience that is receptive to buy.

Instagram is a unique place where consumers enjoy, and even seek out, branded content. Over 600 million people (60% of users) use Instagram to seek out new products. Now, Explore ads will bring the products to them.

Many brands already enjoy the luxury of free access to the Explore page, but that doesn’t mean users are happy to be exposed to sponsored content without algorithmic relevance. To capitalize on Instagram’s potential, brands should match content their audience enjoys exploring with realistic product photography and conversational product descriptions.

Take this scenario, for example: A 27-year-old who typically surfs the Explore feed for fashion inspiration spends a few hours on the "Health" tab every week. When an appealing post of a transparent vitamin with a witty caption organically appears on the user’s page, it feels natural and the user wants more information.

To keep the momentum going, retailers should ask, “what elements drew our target audience to this Explore post?” and “how do we convey the same ideas in our ad?” The approach will help you build bonds with users by showing you understand their style, life and what they value in brands.

But even with a stellar digital presence, retailers won’t see the desired results unless their product data is cleaned properly. Product data cleansing is the act of standardizing, completing and correcting product feeds to ensure a seamless product experience for the customer. Not only does this save time and boost visibility, it ensures consumers have the product information they need to make an informed buying decision. It may be worthwhile to consider partnering with a solution provider to make marketing on this channel easier for your company.

As Instagram expands into a one-stop destination from products ranging from sofas to luxury watches, Explore ads will play a key role in the transition. Retailers should focus on advertised content that will enhance their target audiences’ Explore feed to transition into a seamless in-app purchase.

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