Are brands sleeping on Instagram as a native advertising platform? See why this undervalued option may be your path to greater ROI.
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Is Instagram for Business Underestimated in Native Advertising?

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By Austin Kenyon

 Marketing Intern

This being my first internship with routine hours, the transition from campus life to the workplace was abrupt. As I begin to acclimate to the longer days at work, I am also learning the importance and value of spare time. 

My routine after work begins with a meal at home while I scroll through my favorite social media apps, checking Instagram and Facebook to see what I missed while at work. After dinner, I typically go to work out at the gym, checking Snapchat between exercises. Then, I come home to relax, watching videos on IGTV and before cleaning up and heading to bed, where I check in one last time on all my accounts. So, what is the one thing that all these activities have in common? 

Over the last decade, social media has become a part of the way we operate. As our attention begins to shift toward our devices, rather than what is physically around us, advertisers and brands must work to find solutions to reach their audience. CBS’s Nora O’Donnell’s recent report on the pressure of Instagram revealed that 72% of teens use Instagram, proving that the audience is present, and so is a significant opportunity.

While being online is often a great user experience, it’s frustrating when I’m on a webpage and up pops an ad that now covers my screen, limiting my view of what it was I was reading. Brands, listen up: that kind of interruption leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The battle for advertisers, then, is finding a way to seamlessly integrate their ads into users’ pages and applications, limiting how they interfere, yet still delivering on their campaign. 

To solve this problem, Instagram and other social media platforms utilize Native advertising, a technique where ads present like content organic to the environments around them. Introducing Instagram for Business, which allows brands to drive awareness, reach customers, and share their story with an engaged audience, all in a way that users find attractive and non-invasive. 

I can remember the first time I came across one of these advertisements on Instagram and thought it was a post from an account I followed. I unknowingly treated it like any other account, and I “liked” it. In hindsight, it makes me laugh—I fell for it, meaning the ad was successful. Now, years later, the social media giant has optimized its business tools to allow the ability to reach 500M+ accounts daily using Photo, Video, Story, and Carousel Ads. 

Since I’m pursuing a career in advertising, I’d like to think that I am more aware of advertising in my own environment, its tactics and methods of attraction. Despite this awareness though, now, more than ever, I find myself discovering, interacting with, and completing purchases via Instagram. I, like many others, find comfort in a streamlined purchasing process – which is a service that Instagram incorporates into its native ads. 

So why then, is it that I interact more frequently with ads that appear on Instagram, as opposed to traditional banners that run on webpages I visit? The issue that Native advertising solves is a condition that marketers call Banner Blindness, in which users have developed the ability to ignore ads that are placed on pages they visit. By shifting the location of ads to that of content native to the application’s natural environment, users consider the content to be a part of their personalized feed, dissolving it as obstructive or intrusive of their experience. Brands apply big, bold images along with powerful video content to captivate their audience to increase their chances of interaction.

More recently, through an interaction on Instagram, I was introduced to a company that is “embracing the messiness of masculinity.” Harry’s is a personal-care company that is joining other brands in offering a subscription service for its affordable and high-quality razors and personal-care products. Scrolling down my feed I stopped on a sponsored video featuring a Harry’s Razor Trial Kit. I was in the market for a razor and completed their form via their push button, wanting to try the product at a reduced price. Highly satisfied with the product, a month later, I am receiving the first of paid monthly deliveries for replacement razor blades. For Harry’s, this is an example of a successful conversion, and in time, their ongoing goal will be to keep me as a customer using their subscription model service.  

From the standpoint of a brand, Instagram for Business is an innovative tool to help brands reach their desired audience via the proven effectiveness of Native Advertising. In my own life, social media has grown to work hand in hand with many of my activities outside of work. Furthermore, it is important to understand that I (and many others) find Instagram to be a place where we go to discover new and exciting products and services. 

With Instagram now reporting that 60% of people say they discover new products through their platform, brands should also know that using video is the best way to attract the attention of teen users. Taking advantage of their acceptance and comfort with Instagram’s native ad design might just be the way to help grow your business and grow your customer base. 

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