Instagram to Start Showing Ads in ‘Stories’

Months after cloning Snapchat’s most popular feature, Instagram’s Stories—which are now viewed by over 150 million per day—are getting paid advertisements and insights for businesses.

Instagram Stories ads are launching with 30 brands to start, and will show as users jump from one friend’s Story to another. Brands on-board for the initial launch include Netflix, Nike, Buick, and Capital One. The ads can either be in still photo or 15-second video format, and will take up the viewer’s entire screen.

All brands will have the option of purchasing Instagram Stories ads in the coming weeks, via the Facebook ads manager platform. Initially, Stories ads will only be available as a Reach-based goal—but, expect direct response ad types to be rolling out soon. One additional caveat, as with Facebook’s new mid-roll video product, is that brands do not have the option of selecting which users their ads appear before or after; opening up the possibility that a company could sponsor a placement directly preceding a competitor’s organic Story. This is a feature Instagram may need to introduce over time, especially since 1/3 of all Stories viewed at present are published by brands.

Given that Facebook recently announced it is nearly out of space in the core app for new ads, Instagram Stories ads is the next logical step. Curiously, though, Snapchat pulled their own Stories ads back in October; and while no reason was given, it likely had to do with negative user feedback on the new sponsored placements. It will be interesting to see how Instagram users respond to having their previously ad-free experience now interrupted with paid promotions.

Instagram also announced on Wednesday that it will be rolling out expanded insights for businesses utilizing organic Stories. Any company using the recently-introduced business profile format is eligible to view reach, impressions, replies, and exits within each Story.

Image via Instagram

Both Instagram Stories ads and Insights are rolling out now.

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