In the next few days, Instagram will begin testing further calls-to-action for sponsored posts. The Facebook-backed platform also plans to expand its targeting capabilities.

Instagram is expanding its advertising capabilities, making it easier for marketers to buy ads and consumers to take actions from them.

One way Instagram is increasing its ad capability is by making it easier for businesses of all sizes to purchase ads on the platform through an Instagram Ads API combined with parent company Facebook's ad buying interfaces. To start, the new API will be opened up to a select group of Facebook Marketing Partners, though it will be expanded globally throughout the year, which could come as a boon for advertisers looking for a way to reach customers through the photo sharing platform.

"A lot of marketers are probably breathing a sigh of relief," says Nick Cicero, chief executive (CEO) of Delmondo, a platform that helps brands and influencers produce, measure and monetize content. "Everybody wants to spend money on Instagram, but nobody's really been able to."


Instagram is also enhancing its targeting beyond demographics like age, location and gender. By working with Facebook to reach users based on interests, as well as consumer data that businesses already have, the photo-sharing platform plans to help advertisers tailor their messages so users see ads based on the things they care about.

Consumers will further help the brands' targeting efforts. Improved feedback mechanisms will give them greater control over the kinds of ads they see. Another enhancement is an expanded offering of calls-to-action, such as signing up for a website or service, downloading an app, or going to a retailer's online store. These features will begin testing in the next few days.

Carter Hostelley, CEO of social marketing agency Leadtail, says that marketers have to understand their audiences, rather (Read more...) viewing the platform as yet another place to push out ads. It's no coincidence that the brands with the highest levels of engagement, such as Nike and Starbucks, have extremely strong communities of loyal followers offline, as well.

"This is where a lot of marketers stumble - they think this is another place to do exactly what they've already been doing, not taking into account what's unique about Instagram" he says. "This is all about the images so marketers have to make sure their ads really speak to the community, the themes and messages that work for that community, and the goals for ad placements and how to do that in a way that's consistent with the medium."

Instagram, which first launched ads a year and a half ago, is consistently ranked the fastest-growing social network. In February, eMarketer predicted that by the end of this year, Instagram's user base will have increased to 77.6 million, which is nearly one-quarter of the world's population.

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