Instagram advertising is here to stay ladies and gentlemen. Recently eMarketer put out a report that Instagram will make around $600 million in ads so far this year. Only a few months ago the social media tech giant rolled out digital advertising as an option for brands, marketers and advertisers alike. Being owned by Facebook, the behemoth of social media tech, it’s not surprising that Instagram has gone down this route. There’s profit to be made after all (especially having been bought out by Facebook for a cool $1 billion in cash & stock). Just shy of turning 5 years old in October, Instagram domination as a mobile photo editing and sharing platform opens a wide new way for advertisers to reach their audiences.

Now I can imagine, that a lot of users will still find the pesky adverts popping up on their screens annoying. Just look at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google. Can’t avoid them. That being said I don’t use Instagram (keep your sassy comments to yourself thankyouverymuch) but I know a lot of people you use it religiously. So it makes sense from a marketing POV to break into that dimension of digital advertising & marketing. Even brands are using Instagram more than Facebook now. But in doing so, how do advertisers and marketers create ads that provide engaging content and not come across as a stalker-ish, intrusive advert? So I decided to have a look about the interwebs to see what fabulous, fun and freakish advert campaigns have been done successfully done over Instagram.


We did a post on cinemagraphs couple of months ago and they are becoming more and more commonplace, especially on Instagram.


Did you see it? The effect was so subtle I missed it at first…until I watched it a second time. Footwear brand Stuart Weitzman rolled out a few of these back in April, you can see a more obvious cinemagraph down below.


More and more brands are using cinemagraphs as a form of visual engagement as well as bolstering their social media messages and adverts. It’s often mistaken for an animated GIF when in actual fact it is a combination of live photography and video, where there may be a moving element or more.

For the perfect pour, pour a Budweiser. #ThisBudsForYou A video posted by Budweiser (@budweiser) on

In the real outback, there are no blooming onions. #Tracks is #NowOnNetflix

A video posted by Netflix US (@netflix) on

Cinemagraphs work well as a form of Instagram advertising. They also work over a number of other platforms, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook & can be used as website artwork. Engagement increases greatly when using these because interactive/moving images are clicked on way more then static images. Because you could probably never see enough of these badboys, here’s some previous cinemagraphs from Christian LouboutinBalenciaga & Chopard.





Carousel Advertising

Instagram introduced a new function as part of their advertising domain which is called Carousel Ads. This form of Instagram advertising consists of one post with multiple images, which users can swipe to view them all. This form of advertising allows brands and agencies to create a narrative with their social media campaigns. There was a time the carousel ads were unclickable…not anymore. Proving popular, the Carousel Ads feature was only available in the US back in March but is now available elsewhere too (as of 1st June – U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Brazil). Facebook uses the same feature as well for their social media platform. Have a gander at what some of the very first set of brands like GMC, CeaBrasil, Fido Mobile and Lacoste have done with this feature when it first came out.





Hashtag Competitions

If there’s one thing Instagram does well is that its very ‘visual’ based. Some may argue more its more of a visual social media giant then Pinterest, but a little more hispter. Instagram is more like Vine or Twitter whereas Pinterest is more like Tumblr. Arguably Instagram is mostly for photogenic and visually obsessive people, whether its used for work or play doesn’t matter much. But since a lot of people use it all the time, creating hashtag competitions is nothing new. Just look at Twitter. But the hashtag competition angle works marvellously well on Instagram and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. It’s great for brands to increase their audience, create a brand presence as well as getting people excited about what’s on offer. Just below are a few examples of how brands like Starbucks, Marc Jacobs, Habitat for Humanity & Applebees used this form of advertising.



Using the #CastMeMarc hashtag, the fashion label got up to 70,000 entries, of which two winners would be featured in the 2014 AW Campaign & Teen Vogue. This worked ridiculously well and why not? Instagram is like that hot, artsy hipster at high school that is very photogenic and unapologetic about it. Instagram is used as a way to actually scout model talent now, even before this campaign was launched.


Applebees used the hashtag #Fantographer to increase their Instagram viewership and presence. By promising winners their best images to be featured front row & centre on Applebees’ Instagram account, the brand reaped a ton load of food selfies. Engagement went up by 25% and their followers increased by 32% between June & September.


Habitat for Humanity used the #HabitatPhotoContest hashtag in hopes of getting people to highlight all the goodwill missions and community projects in their local area. All they had to do was (like with the brands above), use the hashtag & follow HoH. Photos were collected into an online media gallery whilst the winner took part in the 31st Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Dallas, Texas.




Starbucks created the #WhiteCupContest hashtag and got people to turn their usually bland coffee cups in works of art. The brand, one of the few brands which continues to dominate Instagram (and other social media channels), tapped their creative audience and received over 4000 submissions in just under 3 weeks. As a result, the winner’s design was chosen and will be used in lieu of Starbucks’ reusable cups this Autumn.

Click To Shop

Instagram recently launched a new set of call to action buttons, such as the ‘Shop Now’ button, as well as ‘Install Now’, ‘Learn More’ & ‘Sign-Up’. Such CTA features makes it so much easier for users to directly connect with brands and companies outside of Instagram. Also included is a new API software platform. This allows marketing partners to automate the advertising process, such as being able to track, measure & manage ad campaigns and the like. Such a feature was bolstered by parent company Facebook. Even before these features, you had other companies tapping into the buyers’ market and utilising Instagram as a mobile boutique. Fashion brands like Vogue, Net-A-Porter & Louis Vuitton are just examples of how these brands not only promote their brands through products or campaigns, they show red carpet photos, candid shots, flash-sales, ‘shop the look’ collages, vid clips and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Rachel Weisz wearing #LouisVuitton by @nicolasghesquiereofficial to the premiere of ‘Lobster’ at #Cannes2015

A photo posted by Louis Vuitton Official (@louisvuitton) on

Outdoor Advertising

Oh yeah, this one is an oldie but a goodie. Typical outdoor advertising varies, from bus-stops, posters and billboards up to guerrilla marketing tactics, window displays & signage. Now brands have taken those outdoor advertising methods and added an Instagram twist to them. The other week the fashion retailer Forever 21 released a ”Thread Screen” which is made up of aluminium, cloth & wood, featuring around 200,000 components with up to 6.7 miles of fabric. The digital board shows Instagram photos with the hashtag #F21ThreadScreen, rendering the images using the many spools of fabric thread (6,400 to be exact with up to 36 colours). The board is actually live right now at, rendering Instagram images and sends back to those users auto-edited clips of their photos being re-imagined in the board.

Another Instagram example of outdoor advertising is American retailer Nordstorm doing a larger than life Instagram image that sits on top of the Seattle Flagship’s roof. There unfortunately aren’t many examples of outdoor advertising that takes an Instagram angle but I’m sure in the near future we will see more inventive and bizarre types of ad campaigns like Forever 21’s spool machine.

Those are just a few of the ways Instagram can be utilised to Bottom line, Instagram is worth the investment because it’s more than just another online web gallery, it’s an insanely popularly and creative social media platform that is widely available, cross-platform and has over 300 million users since December 2014. Hot…damn!







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