Instagram Ads Can Now Link To Messenger Accounts And Bots

What Happened
Facebook is ramping up the cross-platform promotion among its popular properties by allowing brands to buy ads from Facebook to run on Instagram that link to a brand’s account in Facebook’s messaging app. This means that brands can now add deep-linking codes to their photo, video, and carousel ads on Instagram, which will open up a specific messaging thread on Messenger for users clicking on them, enabling brands to drive conversations and promote their chatbots on Messengers.

What Brands Need To Do
This update reveals two things about Facebook’s conversational strategy. First, this indicates that Instagram probably won’t be getting chatbot anytime soon, a reasonable move considering that Instagram’s messaging section is already getting a bit crowded after incorporating Snapchat-inspired ephemeral messaging features. It helps to uphold the distinction between Instagram, the visual-heavy social sharing app, and Facebook Messenger, the all-in-one chat platform. Secondly, Facebook is betting on Instagram as a lead generator to rev up consumer interest, but opts to leave all the customer service tasks to Messenger, which has some advanced features such as payment support that Instagram lacks.

Messaging apps has become an increasingly important channel for brands to effectively reach mobile customers. Sephora recently launched a Facebook campaign with in-feed ads that directed people to Messenger, resulting in an 11% increase in makeup booking sessions. Bots can be a powerful and cost-effective tool for handling basic information requests, managing business bookings, and facilitating direct purchases. More brands should be coming up with a conversational strategy that include not only how to use bots to improve their brand messaging and services but also how to properly promote the bots.

 


Source: Marketing Land

Instagram Tests Direct Response Ad In Stories

What Happened
Instagram has started testing direct response ad units in its Stories section, which hosts photos and videos that are available for 24 hours. Similar to the ones on Snapchat, this new ad format invites users to swipe up on a full-screen Story to drive sign-up or app installation. SumUp, a digital payment device company, is one of the first brands to use this ad format to encourage people to sign up for its service. In addition, Instagram also updated its direct messaging to add support URLs, allowing brands to utilize the messaging channel to drive web traffic.

What Brands Need To Do
Until now, Instagram Stories ads have only offered standard “reach” objectives based on impressions and not the direct-response formats that have been made available in Instagram’s main feed. Bringing those formats to Stories is a natural next step for Instagram to grow its ad product portfolio. Instagram only started selling sponsored videos in between Stories in March, which are played full-screen and therefore much more engaging, compared to the display ads in its main feed. As Instagram continues to make its platform more brand-friendly, marketers may consider trying out new ad formats available.

 


Source: AdAge & The Verge

Instagram Adds Snapchat-Style AR Selfie Lenses And Tests Location-Based Public Stories

What Happened
It looks like Facebook is not done copying Snapchat just yet. With its latest update on Tuesday, now Instagram users can try out so-called “face filters” in the Instagram camera, which works similarly to the Selfie Lenses that Snapchat popularized. Instagram users can tap the new face effect icon to try out eight different filters, including animated crowns, cute animal features, and other AR effects that track your face and respond to motion.

In addition, Instagram has also started testing a new feature that allows users to view all publicly shared Stories with same location sticker. Users can then visit that business, landmark or place’s Instagram page and watch a slideshow Story of posts from there shared by strangers they don’t follow. Snapchat used to have a similar local Stories feature that compiles together user-generated content based on locations, but it has discontinued the feature to focus on more on live events.

What Brands Need To Do
Both new features are part of the homogenizing trend in social and messaging app design, led largely by Facebook’s relentless efforts to curb Snapchat’s growth. For brands, the rapid growth of Instagram and its camera-focused update signal the increasing opportunities for brands to conquer the smartphone’s camera screen. With the quick advancement of machine learning and AI-powered solutions, we are starting to see examples of brands primarily using the camera as an input source of the mobile user interface and leverage images to learn about user intent. Combined with the upcoming developments on Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform, announced last month at its F8 developer conference, this trend means brands should be looking into camera AR features as a way to update their digital user experience to be more intuitive and convenient for mobile users.

 


Source: Amazon Alexa Blog

Instagram Integrates Ephemeral And Permanent Messaging In Direct

What Happened
With its latest update released today, Instagram revamped its private messaging feature Direct to unite both ephemeral and permanent messages in one inbox. Previously, the disappearing Direct Messages would appear as circular icons atop the inbox like Instagram Stories. Now,  disappearing ephemeral photo and video messages with traditional permanent text and image messages in the same one-on-one and group threads. Instagram introduced ephemeral messaging in Direct in November, and has since seen Direct usage spike from 300 million to 375 million monthly active users.

What Brands Need To Do
The update significantly enhances the messaging experience on Instagram, giving it an edge over Snapchat and other competitors. The fast growth in active users is a strong indication that Instagram has the potential to be more than a photo-sharing social network and branch out into the messaging space. Given that messaging apps has overtaken social networks in usage as mobile user behaviors shift, brands will need to develop a conversational marketing strategy to reach customers on the messaging platforms.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The new NiroBot we build in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Adds Mid-Roll Ads To Non-Live Videos & Instagram Stories

What Happened
Facebook’s first order of ad business in the new year is to ramp up its in-stream video ads. The social media giant has started testing 15-second-long mid-roll ads inserted in between videos select publishers posted on Facebook. The ads would only appear after those videos have played for at least 20 seconds. Advertisers will have similar targeting options for those new in-stream ads, as they will be able to pick content categories in which they want their ads to run, such as sports or humor, and specify categories they want to avoid.

Similarly, Facebook has also started testing inserting short-form video ads in Instagram Stories, the Snapchat Story clone feature it added five months ago, The ads will work similarly to Snap ads, as full-screen, skippable videos that pop up in between Stories. Nike, Airbnb, and Buick are among brands that are testing this new ad product. According to Facebook, Instagram Stories are now used by 150 million users on a daily basis.

What Brands Should Do
When Facebook first started testing mid-roll ads in Live video in August, it was anticipated that such efforts would soon come to non-live videos as well. Facebook claims that its users watch 100 million hours of video every day, and has recently made some tweaks in its apps to simplify video discovery. As Facebook continues to add new video ad products to its increasingly video-heavy social platforms, brands may consider adjusting their video budgets accordingly to reach today’s mobile consumers in a more targeted, effective way.

 


Source: AdWeek & Marketing Land

 

Bacardi Hacks Instagram Stories To Create An Interactive DJ Experience

What Happened
Liquor brand Bacardi found a way to create a fun interactive DJ experience on Instagram to connect with its music-loving customers. Working with BBDO, Facebook’s Creative Shop, and Swizz Beatz, Bacardi hacked Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-inspired feature that Instagram debuted four months ago, to create a unique musical experience where users navigate back and forth through a series of sound clips by tapping on a simulated two-turntable DJ set. Like all Instagram Stories, this initiative will only be available for 24 hours, but Bacardi plans to publish this set of Stories to its feed and other social channels for later viewing (but no longer interactive) after it expires.

What Brands Should Do
This initiative from Bacardi offers an innovative take on Instagram Stories and, by extension, Snapchat Stories that more brands can learn from to develop this kind of interactive experiences on social channels. Too often, brand marketing on social media is focused on resurfacing marketing materials or driving conversions with special offers, whereas mobile-native experiences like this one or the Kik campaign we developed for Sony Music can truly help brands to achieve organic engagements. With consumers increasingly shunning traditional ads and spreading more and more media time on mobile, it is imperative that brands be creative with their mobile and social initiatives and explore new ways to engage with customers.

 


Source: AdWeek

Lead image courtesy of BacardiUSA’s YouTube 

Instagram Adds Ephemeral Live Video And Messages

What Happened
Facebook continues its relentless chase after the Snapchat users by adding live videos and disappearing messages to Instagram. Starting today, users can start live broadcasting within Instagram Stories. Unlike other popular live-streaming platforms such as Facebook Live and Periscope, which allow users to save live videos for later viewing, the live videos on Instagram will become unavailable as soon as the broadcast ends. Besides live video, Instagram is also adding ephemeral messages to its Direct Messages, which appear in a dedicated horizontal message bar atop the permanent message threads.

This major update comes on the heels of Facebook’s several big moves to copy Snapchat features in the past month, including testing Snapchat-like features in its main app, buying a facial recognition startup that can help it develop smart selfie lenses, and even launching a Snapchat clone in emerging markets. It is safe to say that the social network giant is feeling the heat of the fast-growing messaging app.

What Brands Should Do
Nevertheless, Instagram’s 300 million daily monthly active users still double Snapchat’s user base at the moment. For brands, the addition of live video and ephemeral messages to Instagram opens the door for new types of customer interactions on one of the most popular social platforms. As Facebook continues to court young Millennial audience with Snapchat-inspired features, brands should consider incorporating these new features into their existing social strategies and choose the live-streaming platform that best suits their campaign objectives.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Instagram Updates Stories With Direct Links And More

What Happened
On Thursday, Instagram updated its app to add some neat new features to its Stories feature. Besides a built-in Boomerang mode and support for tagging other Instagram users in Stories, this update brings an important function to the app –– the ability to add URL links to their stories that viewers can open without leaving Instagram.

To keep the Stories free of long ugly URLs, Instagram is adding a “See More” button to the bottom of any story that includes a link. Users who tap on the button will be directed to the destination page via an in-app web browser. At launch, this link feature will only be available to verified Instagram accounts.

What Brands Should Do
This update shows Instagram’s determination in improving Stories to better compete with Snapchat, and the addition of links in particular should come as a useful tool for content creators and brands. Instagram has long resisted clickable links, limiting them to one per account profile, and only recently started supporting direct links in its ad products. Now brands on Instagram can use Stories as a call-to-action tool to drive traffic and encourage sign-up. Retailers in particular should take advantage of this new feature to expand their social commerce efforts to Instagram.  

 


Source: TechCrunch

Instagram To Test Shoppable Photos With 20 U.S. Retailers

What Happened
Instagram is diving deeper into social commerce as it announces that next week it will start testing a new feature that will let users buy products by tapping on non-ad posts. Working with 20 U.S.-based retailers including Macy’s, Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warby Parker, Instagram will allow retailers to tag their photos with pricing information, product descriptions, and hyperlinks that direct users to brand websites for purchases via an in-app browser.

What Retailers Should Do
Previously, retailers have long been able to direct Instagram users to destination sites for purchases by using its Carousel ads. This new feature, however, will enable brands to turn their organic posts into ecommerce opportunities and transform their Instagram accounts into a digital storefront. While there’s certainly room for improvement such as payment integration, it is nevertheless an important step for Instagram as it continues to make its platform more business-friendly. Retailers and brands looking to harness consumer attention and sell directly on social platforms should keep a close eye on this development.

 


Source: Instagram for Business

Header image is a promotional image courtesy of Instagram for Business

Live Video May Be Coming To Instagram

What Happened
Instagram is reportedly testing a live-streaming feature in Russia, where it is encouraging select users to start a broadcast via a “Go Insta” prompt in its Android app. The new feature appears to be embedded into the Instagram Stories section atop the app’s main page, with Live videos marked by a red “LIVE” banner.

What Brands Should Do
Although Instagram declined to confirm if it is testing such a feature, it would fall perfectly in line with its parent company Facebook’s aggressive approach to getting more users to use its Live video feature. Last week, Facebook launched a global ad campaign for Facebook Live, in which it highlights the variety of user-generated live video content on its platform. The social network has also been testing ad products for Live video.

Extending Live video to Instagram – which seems like a matter of time given Instagram’s quest for more video content in recent years – would no doubt increase the reach of its live-streaming content, giving brands a valuable channel to connect with online audiences in real time. Brands like Birchbox and GE are already using Facebook Live to build relationships with customers and convert interested social followers into customers, and those efforts may be easily transplanted to Instagram to reach non-Facebook users.

 


Source: The Verge