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New mobile marketing channel: What do Instagram ads mean for travel brands?

Facebook‘s Instagram announced the rollout of advertising on the platform last week.

The announcement was made using a sample advertisement, placed directly in users’ feeds, which explained the new format while giving users a taste of this new normal.


Advertisements will not be using any user photos or other content, and will only be seeded with content directly from advertisers’ feeds. Open enrollment has not occurred for this new addition to the Instagram platform, with only ten brands invited to participate in the phased rollout.

Mobile marketing is still in the nascent stages, as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and more work to determine the best way to make money on mobile. Here’s the current breakdown of ad revenues:

Mobile marketing

Google is clearly winning, but Facebook has made great strides. And the fact that Instagram connects directly to Facebook is most certainly going to be a major advantage for brands when considering allocating ad spend.

So what does this mean for travel brands?

Content is still king

This adage will always be true – content is king. However, it’s not just having any content that’s king. It’s creating relevant, compelling, and ultimately shareable, content that matters.

Brands that bring their A game when it comes to the type and quality of content shared will thrive, as will brands that work well with understanding their audience demographics. And then giving that audience what they want, as far as in-stream content.

Travel brands need to remember this, and continue to leverage the easily captivating visual imagery that defines the industry.

In addition, Instagram hasn’t revealed just how it will roll out access to advertisers. They may choose to make it invite-only, and therefore ensure access only to the highest-quality brands who have invested heavily into their accounts.

The lack of text is perhaps one of Instagram’s greatest defenses into becoming a repository for spammy crap, so this means that brands must continue pushing only the most relevant and interesting images to their followers, and not phone it in.

Instagram video has now become a thing, pushing Vine down the priorities

As Mashable points out, 40% of the most popular Instagram video in the past month have been from brands. That list is:

1. MTV
2. NBA
3. Peanuts
4. GoPro
5. Miami Heat
6. Wendy’s
7. Topshop
8. Starbucks
9. ABC
10. HBO (Girls)

There’s not one travel brand on there – which in some ways isn’t surprising, given the retail nature of the businesses listed. However, there is a significant opportunity for travel brands to get in on this action. As repeatedly mentioned in this publication, travel is one of the most visually captivating industries, with endless opportunities for engaging content.

Video is no different, and now that advertising can be used to supplement an organic push for virality, Instagram has increased appeal. Investing in Instagram video gives content to highly engaged Instagramers, while also seeding captivating content over to Facebook.

Facebook has become more valuable

As mentioned prior, the integration with Facebook now becomes even more vital for travel marketers. Instagram has not only increased appeal due to the popularity of video, or the increased interest from teenagers, but the fact that it’s a part of Facebook. User interactions on Instagram, shares on Instagram to Facebook, and the tight integration between Facebook and Instagram all mean that an investment in one platform organically boosts the results in the other.

This makes cultivating an audience on Facebook just as important as Instagram. Of course, there’s a risk of just seeing Facebook as a repository for content created and shared on Instagram, so Facebook must still be managed as a discrete channel with a strategy that reflects that particular use case.

 This is a double return on the investment, and is a significant opportunity for savvy marketers.

Regardless, the addition of advertising to Instagram gives Facebook  much more ammunition against any incoming mobile threats. Mobile marketers must step up and start thinking about if, and how, Instagram advertising will fit into their marketing plan once the service is rolled out to more advertisers.

NB: Instagram image courtesy Shutterstock.

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick Vivion was a reporter (and later also global events lead) for Tnooz between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and was recently AVP Operations, North America at Zomato.



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