Instagram and Pinterest announce targeted ad features

The social media platforms’ recent updates offer brand managers bigger opportunities with visual storytelling and mobile marketing.

Visual and mobile marketing are an important and growing part of social media, accentuated by recently announced Instagram and Pinterest features.

Instagram revealed Wednesday that it would offer (to selected advertisers) photo carousel ads, which tell a brand’s story through a sequence of four images. Instagram said in a company blog post that the ads would give companies greater flexibility in storytelling.

The post explains:

One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones—with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.

That’s not all Instagram is offering through its carousel ads, however. For the first time ever, the social media app will offer marketers the chance to link to their companies’ websites through a “Learn More” button.

Pinterest is on the visual and mobile marketing bandwagon as well. (More than 75 percent of its traffic comes from mobile devices.) In January, the company introduced “Promoted Pins” to all U.S.-based marketers, and according to Eric Hadley, Pinterest’s head of partner marketing, Pinterest is getting more specific about audience targeting and more engaging ads.

Hadley told Advertising Age the visual social media platform will soon offer its advertisers a way to target potential consumers beyond its 30 categories. “Advertisers will now be able to target users by audience, such as ‘outdoor enthusiast,'” he said.

Pinterest is also testing animated pins, which will move when users scroll.

What do these changes mean for marketers, especially on the heels of new Twitter, Snapchat and other social media features?

Social media is increasingly more ‘pay to play’

As many brand managers realized in the wake of Facebook’s slashing the reach of company pages, social media platforms are becoming more a “pay to play” marketplace with each passing day.

“Facebook is looking for more ways to coax money out of the brands that use, and increasingly rely on, its platforms,” writes Issie Lapowsky at Wired.

Marketers’ reliance on specific social media websites and apps also give those platforms greater power to make features that will enable consumers to learn about, engage with and purchase from companies without leaving the website or app.

“One day, Pinterest is widely expected to offer users the chance to make purchases right on its site,” Patrick Hoge writes in San Francisco Business Times .

Consumers crave interaction

Social media platforms may be offering lucrative opportunities for brands, but that doesn’t mean marketers should forget the importance of fostering relationships with their consumer audiences.

Kevin Knight, a Pinterest partnerships leader, said informative pins receive up to 30 percent more engagement. The most popular brand pins are “beautiful,” “helpful” and “tasteful,” which means marketers still must put consumers’ needs first when creating and sharing content.

Don’t ignore messaging apps

The importance of interaction is even more evident when brands move to mobile social media apps.

Kik, a messaging app, announced new targeting capabilities within the app that makes it much more competitive with Snapchat’s “Discover” feature. Kik’s “Promoted Chats” can help brands build a following and directly message those fans.

According to AdWeek, more than 10 million users have opted in to chatting online with brand reps since August 2014. More than 60 brands, including Funny or Die, Skull Candy, Vans and Seventeen magazine use the service. On Wednesday, Techcrunch reported Kik now has a native video feature, which enables users to send GIFs to one another.

For marketers still not sure whether spending time on apps such as Kik or Snapchat is worth it, the numbers may make you do a double-take: Kik reported in November 2014 that more than 250,000 people join the mobile messaging platform each day and spend an average of 97 minutes per week on Kik. Business Insider reported in January that Snapchat is bigger than many people realize and that the app’s active users total is probably close to 200 million.


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