Social & Digital Update: Personalised Ads and Shoppable Content On Instagram

Over the past two years, the mammoth success of short-form video sharing apps has caused a game of catch-up for previously dominant social media platforms, namely Facebook and its photo-sharing-platform, Instagram. A string of updates, mostly concerning user-experience, have been launched in the past year to retain their audiences and advertisers.

Instagram introduced ‘Reels’ as a Tiktok competitor in August 2020, and the first half of 2021 has seen Facebook extend its advertising market to this platform. The company began trialing in-stream ads on Facebook, and has been further testing the ads on Instagram Reels in India, Brazil, Germany and Australia in April. Global connections planning director at Facebook, Ian Edwards, states that 2 billion people watch in-stream eligible videos every month. He also claims that 70% of in-stream standalone video ad views are completed globally and with their new features such as Video Topics, advertisers can now be even more specific with their topic targeting than on other channels.

These changes to advertising on the platform came as no surprise considering the ongoing updates Facebook is trialing in order to maintain their status as the world’s largest social media platform (and as the biggest competitor to traditional television advertising in the modern age). Back in 2020, Facebook prioritized the rollout of Facebook Shops to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic make the transition to social shopping. As of June 2021, the platform reports 300 million monthly Shops visitors and over 1.2 million monthly active Shops. In March, they launched sticker-based advertising for Shops on their stories feature on Instagram, and has now given users the option to “turn-off” likes on both Instagram and Facebook.

In this new feature, Facebook has;

  • Begun trialing in-stream ads to Instagram Reel videos up to 30 seconds
  • Expanded its topic targeting options in-stream video, with 20 topics and 700 sub-topics available for in-stream only video ads
  • Enabled advertisers to choose a topic they can place their ad in, which will target content tagged as “of interest'' by users and creators with that topic.
  • Placed in-stream ads in videos that are three minutes or longer, with the ad only playing after a viewer has watched at least 45 seconds (or more, depending on the video).

The ads will be full-screen and immersive, similar to ads in Stories. The move seems to ensure advertisers and brands get meaningful views and engagement on their content, for their own benefit and their consumers, which is more than a little reminiscent of TikTok’s ForYou page and algorithm. And so the competition between the platforms continues...