Reflected in our glazed-over eyes, pretty images dance with ads in between. If that sounds like television, you’ll understand why marketers are so excited about Instagram’s coming of age. Two years after Instagram first introduced ads, it’s ready to get very serious about earning money off its 400 million users. And that means making it easy for advertisers to move their money from TV commercials to the world’s top photo app.
Today Instagram announced its marketing Partner Program that highlights 40 companies in advertising, analytics, and community management that it recommends brands work with.
These will give big brands and advertisers the technical firepower necessary to run huge optimized ad campaigns, track exactly what type of content is popular with their account’s followers, and moderate comments from spam to customer service requests. That in turn will inspire them to spend more, and pump Instagram full of better content, even if some of it is paid promotion.
Instagram first revealed its ads in fall of 2013, centered around brand ads with beautiful images you were just supposed to look at and remember. After an extended testing period where the focus was on user experience (to the extent that co-founder Kevin Systrom initially said he was personally vetting every ad), the program has kicked into high gear.
Since the beginning of the year, Instagram has started allowing clickable ads (so they’re useful to direct marketers), added Buy buttons for retailers, and launched an Ads API for programmatic control of huge ad campaigns. Then it rolled out ads globally in September.
Along the way, an ecosystem of marketing partners sprung up to help brands spend money on Instagram while taking a little cut for themselves. But it was tough for brands to tell which tools were legit.
“We created Instagram Partners to make it easier for advertisers of any size to find the best-in-class technology partners they need to get great results on our platform,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Now Instagram is following the lead of its owner Facebook, which built a big ecosystem of ad partners. And again, it’s not just for ad-buying. Instagram says its initial partners fall into three broad categories, namely ad tech, community management and content marketing.
The current partner lineup includes many familiar names from the social advertising world, including Adobe, Brand Networks, Marin Software, Nanigans, Salesforce, and Sprinklr — as well as SocialCode, which says that since becoming an Instagram Partner it has worked with more than 40 percent of its clients to launch Instagram campaigns.
Essentially, Instagram is holding the hands of brands as they wade into its sea of marketing opportunities. At this rate, we might soon start hearing about Instagram’s revenue on Facebook’s earnings calls, and it can finally repay its parent company for its ~$1 billion acquisition price tag.
Anthony Ha contributed to this post.
Image Credit: ridiculouslifestyles via Dan Bilzerian