Instagram has introduced a new way for brands to tell their Stories, with expanded photo and video carousels.
In the past, brands could only include a single photo or video in their Story ads. Now, a limited number of advertisers can triple that with three consecutive photos or videos, as the company announced today.
For now, the expanded ad unit is only available to 12 brands, such as California Pizza Kitchen, Netflix, and Paramount. However, it is also opening the format, which it is calling “carousel ads for Instagram Stories” to brands buying ads through automated ad-buying firms.
It is unclear when Instagram will be bringing the ad unit to self-serve advertisers, which include the vast majority of small businesses that advertise on the platform.
The expanded format should come as a relief for the advertisers who have access. In the past, the constraints of Instagram’s Story ads forced brands to squeeze in as much as possible within a single image or 15-second video. Now, they have more breathing room to tell actual stories.
The versatility of the new ad unit also offers new creative options for brands who advertise on Instagram.
Because you can mix-and-match, you might start a carousel with a short video showcasing the product, followed by an image highlighting features or details, with a link to your website on the final slide. Or, you might create thematically related short-videos that complement each other. You could also just split a 45-second video ad into three segments across the carousel.
“The goal is really to create ad formats that feel as native as possible to Instagram,” said Susan Rose, director of product marketing for Instagram.
According to Rose, one-third of the most-viewed organic Stories on Instagram are posted by brands, and 60 percent of Instagram’s organic Stories are viewed with the sound on.
While the expanded carousel gives you more room for telling stories with your ads, the individual limitations for each slide remain the same.
The maximum length of each video is 15 seconds, and photos only stay on the screen for up to five seconds. Users can also swipe past the ad to skip it.
To provide better insight into how these carousel ads are performing, Instagram says it will record analytics data for views and swipes on each post in an ad. However, the impressions for the ad will only be counted once when the ad is served.