Instagram ad tech push - 40 new firms make the cut

By Alison Lowe | 11 November 2015

Seven companies with Australian operations appear in the line-up of 40 global firms hand-picked by Instagram to become part of a program it has designed to lend a helping hand to marketers.

Eighteen months after opening itself up for advertising, and several months since it invited advertisers to step into its API, the photo-sharing site has revealed a list of “vetted” tech partners which it says can aid advertisers of any size in maximising their results on the 400 million user-strong platform.

The Instagram Partner Program is the next step in the ongoing push by the Facebook-owned company to monetise its massive user base and is likely to be a significant boon to revenue generation for the company.

Among those on the list of partners are Adobe, Salesforce, Kenshoo, Marin, Nanigans, Spredfast and Brand Networks - all companies with Australian operations.

“These guys know our platforms and how to integrate within the Facebook and Instagram ecosystem and so they can help advertisers do more and create more value,” Antonia Sanda, Facebook and Instagram's head of communications for Australia and New Zealand, told AdNews.

“Over time, we'll be adding more to the mix,” she said, indicating this will include more companies with an Australian presence.

Though Instagram boasted two months ago of how it is now “open to businesses large and small” and looking to make ads on a self-serve basis, the Partner Program appears to be recognition by the company that it stands to benefit from pointing advertisers in the direction of tech companies that can do a bit of hand-holding throughout the process.

Sanda described Instagram as a platform having undergone a “massive evolution” over the past few months in terms of advertising and how the company is working with brands.

“Any business in Australia can now serve an ad through our self service platform. We also added different ad platforms and improved our targeting as well as we've made it easier to buy through our self-service platform. We opened up the ads manager and as a part of this launch of the partner program we've also opened up the API, which will really help developers create value on Instagram,” she said.

Asked whether Instagram was concerned that a flood of advertising could overwhelm or push away users, Sanda said the company has been mindful about phasing in advertising for this reason. However, she also warned companies have to be particularly aware of creating well-crafted content for Instagram or they will stand out – and not in a good way.

“In Australia we've had ads now for over a year and I think we've deliberately rolled out ads slowly because the companies and brands advertising really understand the platform," Sanda said.

"We've thought long and hard about this journey. We only launched with five to 10 brands initially, getting them used to the platform and getting the community used to it. The key thing is that the content in the platform needs to be relevant. Relevant ads fit within the platform. You stand out more in a platform like Instagram if you don't create good ads.”

In a blog posted about the program, Instagram said it created Instagram Partners to make it "easier for advertisers" of any size to find the best-in-class technology partners they need to get great results on the platform.

“Instagram Partners helps solve a wide variety of business challenges - whether it’s driving more installs for a new mobile gaming app, or driving in-store foot traffic during the holidays. We have partners available to help drive both brand and performance objectives across a wide range of businesses,” Instagram stated.

The 40 partners announced include companies like Adphorus, SproutSocial, and ReFuel4. Each specialises in one or several areas including ad tech, community management and/or content marketing.

Sanda said partners can help advertisers manage ads, interact with the Instagram community and create, curate and source content on the photo sharing app.

The partnership will benefit not just advertisers but clearly also the partners themselves, who have the advantage of being “okayed” by Instagram as a go-to for advice.

Giving an example of how such such partnerships have resulted in campaign optimisation, Instagram described how US company, House of Blues Entertainment, turned to an Instagram partner to help sell tickets for an artist playing at one of its venues.

“Using Instagram’s targeting combined with Instagram partner CitizenNet’s audience modeling, they targeted residents with similar musical tastes during a 13 day campaign. At the end of the campaign, they saw a 64% higher return on investment than their previous benchmark - inspiring them to extend their advertising efforts to 40 plus venues in the US,” Instagram stated.

No word yet on what the projections are for how the partnerships will impact the app's bottom line, however in September, figures compiled by eMarketer suggested Instagram could raise $600 million in global ad revenues this year, growing to $1.48 billion in 2016 and $2.81 billion by 2017. It is unclear if these figures took into consideration the launch of the Instagram Partner Program.

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