Instagram’s direct-response Story ads are available for self-serve buys

Ads within Instagram's Stories feed can prompt people to swipe up to visit a brand's site or install its mobile app.

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Publishers have shown that people viewing Instagram Stories are willing to swipe up to visit a site. Now it’s time to see if that’s also the case for advertisers.

Instagram has officially started selling ads that can appear within people’s Stories feed and link to a brand’s site or app-install page in Apple’s or Google’s app stores. Ad Age reported a couple of weeks ago that Instagram has been testing direct-response ads within Stories, and Instagram has since made them available through Facebook’s self-serve ad-buying tools, Ads Manager and Power Editor, as well as through Facebook’s advertising API.

Coinciding with the rollout of swipeable ads in the Stories feed — which is viewed by more than 200 million people daily — Instagram now lets advertisers set objectives for these ads, like whether a brand wants people to view the video, visit a website, install an app or complete a specified conversion event, for example, adding a product to a shopping cart on a brand’s ecommerce site. These objectives are similar to the ones already available for non-Story Instagram ads, as well as ads on Facebook, and Snapchat has rolled out its own version called “goal-based bidding.” What they boil down to is that Instagram will use the objective as a North Star to aim a brand’s ads at the people in the target audience who are most likely to fulfill that objective.

The direct-response ads aren’t much different from the version that Instagram added to Stories in January. Brands can feature a single vertical photo or a vertical video that’s up to 15 seconds long as their ad, and they can target the ads using Facebook’s standard ad-targeting options, like people’s age, gender, location, interests and purchase history.

The main difference with the direct-response version of Story ads, aside from being priced on a per-click basis, is that the ads can not only catch people’s attention but also directly convert them into customers. The ads feature a message on the bottom prompting people to swipe up to visit a website or open their device’s app store to install an app. In other words, they’re just like Snapchat’s Snap Ads With Attachments, except Instagram’s version cannot load an in-app advertorial or native extended video when people swipe up. Brands can select from several different calls to action for Instagram’s direct-response Story ads: Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Donate Now, Download, Learn More, Send Message, Request Time, Start Order, Shop Now, Sign Up and Watch More.

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About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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