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Instagram unveils auto-play ads

Instagram is rolling out its long-awaited video ads this week, and Qantas and L’Oreal are among the first brands in Australia to embrace this new medium. Australian Instagrammers have been seen with ads on the platform since October last year, with household names such as McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s leveraging its massive young user base to expand their reach.

“I think video will be big and it’s going to change everything,” says Matt Jacobson, Head of Growth at Instagram. “That thinking of Instagram in terms of still images and being able to tell the story visually and then being able to tell it through a photo or auto-play video, that’s a lot for a brand to understand… If there’s a new platform, a new way to tell stories, a new way to use video, we know it’s initially complicated to produce 1×1 aspect ratio video and tell a story in 15 seconds but there’s a good discipline and meditation around that that I think makes really good work.” One other obstacle brands may encounter is the challenge of getting users to engage with a video story without audio; videos currently auto-play on mute as users scroll through their feed.

L’Oreal’s Head of Digital, Christopher Eymery, is keen to be first on what is sure to be a lucrative bandwagon. “We know that video is performing really well for us because it’s a format that can transform an emotion in a more powerful way than a still image, and that it can be very complementary to a still image campaign as well. So with that knowledge, we’ve been exploring multiple options,” he said in an interview with AdWeek.

This is a logical move for Eymery; “Going into the video space is really the next step to utilise the format that we’ve known had been the most successful to connect with consumers. We’ve done it via TV and we’ve done it via digital advertising for a long time, so [Instagram] was a natural evolution.”

Video ads are just one weapon in Instagram’s advertising arsenal; last week the company unveiled a range of new features in its commercial offering, such as a Facebook-inspired ad carousel for US marketers.

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