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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.

Pinterest has seemingly been testing autoplay video ads forever, but most advertisers haven’t been able to get in on the fun. The video ads were limited to just a small number of big advertising firms and massive brands, while local businesses or small brands made do with picture-based ad formats.

That all changed this morning when Pinterest announced its Promoted Video ads are now officially available to everyone. Anyone can sign up and start running their own autoplay video ads on both search results and within users’ feeds.

Unlike other platforms like Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest is avoiding providing analytics for the ads through their own measurement systems. Instead, they are aiming to avoid potential conflicts of interest by partnering with third-party metrics companies Moat and Nielson.

“One of the unique differentiations for video on Pinterest was that it’s not only about inspiration, but it also helps people do things,” Mike Bidgoli, product lead at Pinterest, told AdWeek. “Obviously the format moved to autoplay, which made it easier for advertisers to be able to buy and measure the same way that they are with everything else. The overarching point is that we wanted video to have third-party measurement from the get-go.”

The company also says that carrying your existing video campaigns over to Pinterest is simple because they follow “the same creative standards as the rest of the industry.”

You can get started sharing your own video ads on Pinterest through their self-serve service, Pinterest Ads Manager.

 

Twitter advertising

Twitter’s ad platform is reportedly in dire need of revenue. Judging by its latest advertising program the company is testing out, it appears that might be the case. The company is definitely getting quite creative in their attempts to find more business, at least.

Twitter is testing the idea of launching a subscription-advertising program designed to let smaller businesses and advertisers pay $99 a month to have their advertising automated by the company. The service would automatically promote their tweets, as well as run Promoted Account ads for the associated account each month.

“Instead of creating and optimizing separate Twitter Ads campaigns yourself, this program will do the heavy lifting. You just need to continue using Twitter as you normally do — Tweeting updates, links, and media that you want a larger audience to see. Then, the promotion of your Tweets will be automated,” as Twitter says on their business site page explaining the new program.

For now, the Twitter Subscription Ads Beta Program is invite-only while Twitter tests the waters. Based on the information available, it looks set to be aimed primarily at smaller advertisers who are using the company’s self-serve ad tools.

While this might sound nice to businesses interested in advertising but unfamiliar with the tricks of the trade, it’s important to know the program has some pretty big downsides. The biggest would be the amount of control you’re giving up.

Unlike normal ad campaigns where you get to select exactly what you’re promoting, participants in the subscription service will have little to no control over what Tweets are turned into ads or whom they are shown to. The company also notes that “not every Tweet that is added to your Promoted Tweet campaign will serve an impression, and the extent each Tweet is promoted may vary based on performance.”

If you’re thinking you might be able to fold the subscription service into your existing advertising efforts, you’ll also be disappointed to learn that isn’t possible. Any account participating in the program will lose access to Twitter’s self-serve ad platform. “In order to participate in this private beta program your previous ads account will no longer be accessible,” says Twitter.

pinterestlogo

Pinterest has been teasing its leap into search advertising for months, if not years. While the company is still yet to open its search advertising platform for all businesses, it continues to test search ads with a limited number of partners.

Now, the company says it will open its ad product to a wider number of advertisers and indicates it is getting ready to expand further.

As the announcement points out, Pinterest currently reaches over 150 million unique monthly users around the world, with over half of its users residing outside America.

“When people come to Pinterest, they’re starting earlier in their decision-making process,” said Jon Kaplan, global head of partnerships at Pinterest. “We saw this with the holidays — people were pinning holiday ideas as early as August. For brands, the implications to our business, that’s an amazing opportunity to reach someone at the earliest stages of decision-making.”

To underscore that idea, Kaplan also points out users conduct over 2 billion searches on Pinterest a month – making up approximately half of the site’s activity.

According to Kaplan, the thing that separates Pinterest’s ads from other platforms is the visual nature. While services like Google deliver text rich ads, Pinterest prefers to let pictures do the bulk of the talking.

“When you search for something like modern furniture, a lot of times a text query doesn’t capture the nuances of your individual tastes or what you actually want to see. So having something that’s visual in nature for a lot of different queries is actually the most powerful way of demonstration or displaying.”

In the past, Pinterest allowed advertisers to target ads using keywords such as “furniture,” which would show ads alongside the site’s relevant organic content. Now, the company says the ads will appear immediately after a person enters a search term.

For now, the social media platform is still limiting its search ads to its partners and companies advertising through the Kenshoo marketing suite. However, it says it plans to eventually offer an open self-serve digital ad service, similar to Google’s.

Instagram Stories

In just five months Instagram Stories has grown into a force to be reckoned with, as the company has launched numerous new features like links, live video, and hands-free video recording. Now, the platform is working to make Stories more attractive to businesses with ads and insights for Stories.

According to Instagram’s own numbers, over 150 million users interact with Stories every day, with one in five Stories also receiving direct messages from viewers. The company also says 70% of users follow a business on Instagram and a third of the most viewed Stories are created and shared by businesses.

Now, the company has announced that ads and insights for Instagram Stories are coming soon.

Ads for Instagram Stories

For now, ads are limited to just 30 brands like Maybelline, New York, Nike, and Netflix, who have been given the ability to test a new 15-second, full-screen ads during Instagram Stories.  If you want to see what the ads might look like, check out how Airbnb is using ads in Instagram Stories:

 

Insights for Instagram Stories

In addition to the testing of ads for Instagram Stories, Insights will also be available as part of Instagram  Business Tools. Anyone with a business account can now view impressions, reach, replies, and exits for all their stories within Business Tools. You can see a preview of Insights for Stories below:

 


These new features are expected to roll out globally in the new couple of weeks, so keep your eyes out.

messenger

Facebook has been expanding their advertising service across every aspect of their platform for years, but one area has remained completely ad-free for users despite this – until now.

Facebook has officially launched ads within its Messenger app with ad bots.

The company has been testing sponsored messages since April, and now it has announced it is opening the messaging app’s ad format to all brands using Messenger’s developer tools to manage their chats.

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The ads are pretty much exactly like the format they have been testing, with straightforward ad messages. However, you can’t spam out ads to everybody. You can only show sponsored messages to those who “have an open, existing conversation with” a brand, according to Facebook.

To help with this limitation, the company says it is also allowing advertisers to create ads that link directly to their Messenger account to spark more conversations with brands.

The ads are also limited to just one link and photo. Unlike most Facebook ads, sponsored message campaigns also cannot be modified to automatically run on Facebook or Instagram.

In another departure from Facebook’s normal ad formats, the company says it will charge advertisers anytime the ad appears on a Messenger user’s screen in their Messenger Inbox – even if it is never opened.

pintereststats

Just last year, Pinterest announced it had reached over 100 million active monthly users – a huge milestone for one of the fastest growing social platforms around.

Since then, Pinterest has grown its user base by over 50 percent, reaching 150 million active monthly users, according to a recent announcement.

The new numbers show Pinterest is maintaining its rapid growth by expanding internationally, as well as reaching out to new demographics at home.

According to Pinterest’s announcement, approximately 80 million of the company’s active users live outside the U.S. and 75% of new signups are coming from users outside the country.

The platform has also made gains with men, who have long been the minority on Pinterest. The company notes 40% of new users are men, an increase of 70% from last year.

Lastly, the statement shows Pinterest is still maintaining a strong hold on millennials. The company says over half of all U.S. millennials are now active users on the site.

Overall, the numbers show Pinterest is still drawing a huge audience of people interested in finding and engaging with products, food, and designs that help them live the lifestyle they dream of.

To find out more about Pinterest’s current user statistics, check out the announcement here.

facebookadvertising

Earlier this year, Facebook was excited to announce that over three million businesses actively advertise on their social ad network. Now, just seven months later, the company has added another million businesses to that number.

In comparison, Facebook’s biggest competition in the social advertising field, Twitter, only took in a little over 130,000 advertisers in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Facebook-owned social platform Instagram announced last week that it has reached 500,000 brands purchasing ads each month, more than doubling from around 200,000 in February 2016.

Really, the only ad network that counters the size of Facebook’s is Google, and they no longer say how many advertisers are active on their network.

While the highlight of Facebook’s advertising announcement was the overall growth in advertisers, they also highlighted just how big of a factor mobile is in their ad network. Not only do more than 80% of Facebook’s advertising revenue come from ads shown on smartphones and tablets, but approximately 40% of Facebook’s active advertisers also have created ads on mobile devices.

Another major player in Facebook’s ad network is video advertising. More than 20% of Facebook’s active advertisers have purchased video ads, and over four million new video ads are created on Facebook every month.

While every social network has its benefits, it is hard to argue with the sheer size of Facebook’s ad network. No other social platform gives you the massive audience and versatile tools that make Facebook ads so popular with advertisers.

Video is finally experiencing the dominance many have claimed it would rise to since the release of YouTube. No matter which platform you look at, it is hard not to see videos littered throughout all your feeds.

This includes Twitter, which has made video a major part of its platform. As such, Twitter has also been keeping close track of how videos on its platform perform, to help advertisers know who is watching what, when, and whether these viewers are taking the time to watch pre-roll ads.

Twitter and AdWeek just released the platform’s annual Online Video Playbook to share what makes Twitter uniquely suited to video content. In particular, the research shows that video ads in Twitter are at least twice as memorable as ads presented on other services.

“As we navigate the dynamic world of video, these insights can help marketers and agencies unlock massive opportunity,” said David Roter, agency development director at Twitter. “We refer back to this playbook as we work strategically with our partners to develop innovative and creative campaigns.”

Check out the infographic below or at AdWeek:

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Twitter Video

Twitter’s video features have been a hit with users, including Periscope, the Twitter-owned live streaming platform. However, the company has struggled to find ways to monetize visual content.

This week, Twitter announced it was launching several changes to make it easier for advertisers to reach video audiences and creators to monetize their content.

For starters, the company is allowing advertisers to run pre-roll ads that appear before a video begins to play. Similar to YouTube’s pre-roll ads, the video advertisements will allow users to skip the ad if they are not interested.

For creators, adding these new pre-roll ads s as easy as signing up for Twitter’s Amplify program and opting-in to use pre-roll ads. You can choose to use the ads on an individual basis or by making pre-roll ads default on all video content.

In addition to the new ad format, Twitter is also making some changes to its Media Studio and Twitter Engage app to improve the monetization of content and advertising across its platform. These changes include:

  • A unified media library including videos, GIFs, and images.
  • Tweet scheduling features.
  • Team management and multi-account support.
  • Improved upload performance and overall stability.
  • An Earnings section detailing your monetization performance.

The biggest wrinkle for Twitter has been deciding how to monetize videos across Periscope live streams. The nature of live streaming video makes it difficult to incorporate ad breaks. Instead, Twitter is allowing Periscope users to seek and connect sponsors for live broadcasts.

These sponsors can then run pre-roll ads before live broadcasts begin.

Considering Periscope videos appear in Twitter timelines and live videos, the decision to incorporate pre-roll ads helps bring the streaming app more in line with Twitter’s other services while making them more attractive for both content creators and advertisers.