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What are Instagram’s Collection Ads?

It can be difficult for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of the dynamic landscape of digital marketing and advertising. Social media and other online platforms are constantly trying to revolutionize their capabilities in this realm, and differentiate themselves among the top performers. Even for digital and social media coordinators, keeping up can be a challenge.

Revolution Digital  |  March 12, 2018
What are Instagram’s Collection Ads?

It can be difficult for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of the dynamic landscape of digital marketing and advertising. Social media and other online platforms are constantly trying to revolutionize their capabilities in this realm, and differentiate themselves among the top performers. Even for digital and social media coordinators, keeping up can be a challenge.

That’s why it’s important to know when it’s time to turn to full-time brand strategy companies or social media content agencies. The return on investment is often strong, and freeing up your in-house staff to focus on other marketing initiatives can increase the impact of investments.

Facebook, Instagram, and Collection Ads

A recent example of the dynamic shifts occurring in the world of digital branding is the phenomenon of ‘Collection Ads’. We’re all used to seeing advertisements that pop up or sit in sidebars. What’s different about collection ads is that they essentially represent a brand’s full catalog of offerings in a single, carousel-style ad. They allow users to scroll through multiple product offerings within the ad itself, and even individuals to place purchase orders right through the app where the ad is placed.

The collection ad format first appeared on Facebook in March 2017. After experimenting with the format, Facebook deployed it more recently on its Instagram Subsidiary, with a few variations.

The version on Instagram simply opens up the catalog of products available for purchase, while Facebook’s version prioritizes the specific product that the user clicked on within the ad.

Instagram’s version shows only three product photos; Facebook’s shows four. They essentially serve the same function, and, presumably, Facebook is experimenting with slightly different formats so that they can learn how to deploy the ads most effectively on each platform.

Instagram’s collection ads are currently limited to just a few advertisers, but that is expected to ramp up in coming months as the data and success metrics dictate. Hopes are running high for the collection ad feature, and the increased ad revenue it is expected to generate. By some estimates, ad revenue on Instagram may double to $10.87 BB by 2019. If that comes to fruition, this may be the new advertising format that’s utilized across the internet.

Social media marketing firms and advertising agencies are watching this phenomenon closely, in hopes of turning its success into their own client portfolio growth. It certainly behooves anyone in the digital marketing and digital branding space to keep on top of this shift.

Improving Capture of Data and Metrics

The collection ad format can clearly provide a brand awareness boost, as is the goal of all advertising. The interactive nature of this particular product branding strategy, however, is not just providing convenience and continuity to the consumer experience. It also allows the companies who sell their goods and services this way to very accurately connect the content they place on these social media outlets to sales and ROI that pass through them. This arms them with valuable information about where their marketing dollars should be spent, and where their customers are making their purchases.

It’s not unlike being able to monitor the performance of specific brick-and-mortar retail outlets. If a store on the west-side of Happyville is experiencing slow sales, but the store in North Townland is succeeding, perhaps it’s time to shutter the underperformer.

Similarly, if a collection ad on App X is doing well, but the ad on App Z is, well, meh, then the response might be to focus the digital marketing dollars on App X. When the purchases come right through the app, this targeting becomes possible with granularity that wasn’t possible before.

Collection Ad Formats

It’s likely that the trend of collection ads, and the likely success they will garner, will lead to numerous variations on the theme. For example, Snapchat, Instagram’s archrival, has rolled out its own ad carousel known as the “Snap Store.”

It differs from the Instagram model, with a focus on products available exclusively from Snapchat, whereas Instagram’s model seems to place its bullseye on external brand advertising to fuel its ad revenue generation.

As the collection ad movement catches on, we will undoubtedly see all sorts of creative morphing of the format to suit apps and websites, targeted consumers, and advertisers.

The new format represents one of the latest shifts in digital marketing strategies. Top creative brand agencies, product marketing strategy organizations, and social media marketing agency services are all along for the ride. Like any web professional at the top of his or her game, we will be keeping a close eye on collection ads and how we can optimize this technology to better serve our clients.

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