Advertising on Pinterest and Instagram are now officially a reality. Gone are the days of ad-free pinning and scrolling through photo streams. Sure marketing has always existed on both of these sites. If you follow a brand on Instagram you have opted-in to subtle advertising by that brand. The sites will not change aesthetically. The only thing is now marketers are going to have to pay for it. The decision to make these popular social media products an advertising vehicle was inevitable and hardly a surprise to anyone. The more interesting aspect, however, is the way both approached their advertising model. Neither utilizes banner or display ads. Both sites chose native advertising to make the transition to advertising more seamless and less “distracting.” Native ads blend in with the site and look like its regular content. Perhaps other than attaching the word “sponsored” or “promoted” to paid ads, the sites maintain the same look.
An obvious question for marketers is, “if these new paid ads are going to look and feel like our current photos, why should we pay?” Besides SEO value, one advantage the paid products will have over the current sites will be the ability to target. On Pinterest users can be targeted by category and based on the types of pins they have liked, searched, or re-pinned in the past. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, can tap into their massive information graph for targeting. Also, previously in order to see photos from a brand in their stream (Instagram) or front page (Pinterest) the user opted to follow that brand. Now these brand photo advertisements will be available to users even if they are not following that brand. Another benefit will likely be sticky photos that will remain at the tops of the page even when the user scrolls down. Twitter’s paid advertising, promoted trends and promoted tweets, employs a similar method. This decreases the likelihood your message will be missed as people scroll the sites.
If you are not active on these sites already, consider expanding your social media campaign. It could pay off with more conversions, and at the very least, more exposure!