Instagram has been stealthy entering into the world of mobile advertising since 2013, cautious of rocking the boat and upsetting its 300 million users and counting. But today, Instagram introduced an interesting feature called ‘Carousel ads’ to its advertising strategy with the introduction of slide show ads.
The new advertising format allows marketers to include links to their products and websites, a move which could unleash a new trend of spending on the image-focused social network. The carousel ads feature will let brands post multiple images, which users can go through by swiping their fingers across the phone’s screen.
The idea behind it is to match the multi-page ad campaigns found in print magazines, says Instagram’s official blog. A mobile phone company, for instance, could highlight different features of a new phone and include a link to a website with more product information or an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal .
The company, funded by Facebook, has been cautious with regard to advertising. The world’s largest social network bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, but it is only starting to generate revenue from the product, and the company does not break out how much it contributes. Instead, the company has always been focusing on increasing its user base over 300m monthly active users, higher than twitter but lower than Facebook.
The new ad service marks the latest step in Instagram’s effort to position its mobile service as an online marketing channel. Instagram introduced photo ads in late 2013 and rolled out video ads last year. The latest update would not flood the feed with sponsored messages but instead this boutique approach would limit the advertisers and ensure the ads are an aesthetic fit. Company’s spokesperson has stressed that ads will be incorporated at a slow and steady pace, with Instagram’s main focus would be as always on boosting users.