Instagram is further investing in its e-commerce business, Instagram Shops, with the launch of a new advertising product, Ads in Instagram Shop. The company says it’s currently testing the new format, which includes both single images and the option for an image carousel, with select U.S.-based advertisers ahead of an expansion to other markets in the months to come.
The company first introduced Instagram Shops last year as part of a larger effort at Facebook to make its social platforms not just a place to connect with friends and follow favorite brands, but also an online shopping destination with an integrated checkout experience. Naturally, this type of initiative also lends itself to Facebook’s advertising model, as brands looking to connect with consumers could pay for expanded reach.
Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Ads in Instagram Shop will launch with an auction-based model, the company says. The ads will only appear on mobile, as the Instagram Shop tab is a mobile-only feature. However, how many ads an individual consumer sees will be based on how they use Instagram and how many people are shopping in the Instagram tab. The company plans to monitor consumer sentiment on this point, in order to balance ads and content.
Initially, Instagram is working with a handful of U.S. advertisers who will test the product and provide feedback, including Away, Donny Davy, Boo Oh, Clare paint, JNJ Gifts, DEUX and Fenty Beauty. These brands encompass some of the more popular categories of goods Instagram users like to shop for, including beauty, home décor, pet products, travel and more.
The company hasn’t yet disclosed an exact time frame for rolling out the ads more publicly, but says the plan is to expand the new format to advertisers in other, non-U.S. markets over the next several months.
The Instagram Shop tab has been one of the app’s more controversial additions in recent years, as it replaced the popular “Activity” tab (heart button) in the bottom navigation row — a change that made the app feel more commercially driven than in the past and alienated some users. Today, the creative community is weighing its options as Instagram distances itself further from its photo-sharing roots with other new additions, like its TikTok clone Reels, as well.