Those of us old enough to call a time before the internet also remember 60-second commercials: A happy woman selling the "quicker picker-upper" (Bounty). A bow-tied fellow selling toilet paper (Charmin). A guy in pajamas bemoaning, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" (for Alka Seltzer).
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Yes, one-minute commercials were once the norm on television.
Now, they’re becoming the norm on the web, too, since Instagram launched its 60-second ad format back in January, just in time for the Super Bowl. The new ads come in addition to the platform’s 15- and 30-second spots.
With 400 million users on the popular photo- and video-sharing social site, Instagram offers an attractive platform for testing longer ads. But who is using the platform, and how can brands get the most from their advertising investment in the new format? Here is information you need about the impact of Instagram's new one-minute ad format and how to capitalize on it as an advertiser.
In web time, '60' matters more than '30.'
If you’re wondering why Instagram took what appears to be a step backward into a simpler, slower time — when people had more time (or at least patience!) to watch ads — you’re not alone.
The answer makes sense when you consider how views are evaluated on a website. When users click on content and then quickly click away, their visit may not be counted, or it may be counted as a "bounce" (as in bounce rate). If users stay on a page, it’s a "hit" or a "visit." If they stay longer, it’s engagement.
Hence, the 60-second advertising format. This new format keeps users on one screen for a longer period of time, increasing onsite engagement for Instagram, a Facebook-owned company. The new ad format is expected to boost the site’s stats considerably by keeping users in the site’s news feed — thereby increasing their interactions with the site, while also adding value to users.
Further, internet video advertising is expected to top $9.95 billion this year, up 28 percent over last year. The more advertising choices Instagram offers its customers, the more potential revenue it makes, and the better the opportunities for companies advertising on the platform to reach their core audience.
It’s a win-win for both Instagram and its customers.
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How brands are using the new ad format
Currently, at least two well-known brands are using the new longer format: T-Mobile and Guinness.
T-Mobile experimented with the 60-second ads with a longer version of its Super Bowl ad, featuring the entertainer Drake. The concept behind the new ads was to sell the T-Mobile brand while engaging viewers with the content.
Guinness U.K. has jumped on the 60-second ad bandwagon, as well, with a piece spotlighting John Hammond, the late record producer whose inclusion of both black and white jazz musicians — including Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan — was an unprecedented stance against segregation. Part of Guinness' “Made of More” campaign, the new ad makes effective use of this longer format as a vehicle for complex storytelling.
Using Instagram to your company’s advantage
It remains to be seen whether other brands will jump on to the T-Mobile and Warner Brothers-led bandwagon and dive into one-minute Instagram ads — and it’s worth noting that the longer ads can run on Instagram, YouTube, Vine and on company websites, too, potentially driving additional traffic and engagement.
The Pew Center for Internet Research estimates that 28 percent of all adult internet users (i.e., 24 percent of the population) are on Instagram; the same study notes that 59 percent of Instagram users are on the site daily. Building a strong Instagram presence and brand, and complementing that effort with Instagram advertising may be a great way to get your products and services in front of potential buyers.
To use Instagram to your company’s advantage, use these tips:
Create a brand-based strategy. Don’t just share random pictures on Instagram. Infuse your Instagram account with the same brand-based thinking as your other social media accounts. Consider which images and content will bolster your company’s brand and be memorable enough to stand out in user’s newsfeeds.
Add hashtags. Hashtags help users find relevant content. Use brand-specific hashtags as well as content-related hashtags on every post.
Celebrate your customers. Starbucks is one of the top Instagram brands because its content people how to make customers feel important on the site by sharing customers’ photos, updates and news frequently. Make sure that your own Instagram feed is all about your customers. Address their wants, needs and desires. Share their stories and images and make sure you credit them. Like, follow and mention them. In turn, they’ll celebrate your stories.
Take memorable photos. Creative, interesting and memorable photos get more traction on Instagram than those that look like your old family photo albums. Don’t be afraid to take pictures that are different from the rest. Memorable photos shared on Instagram offer you both the ability to share branded content and to create buzz. The more you can stand out from the crowd, the better.
Share product videos. In addition to one-minute paid advertising, Instagram now allows you to share longer videos on your profile. Share how-to videos showing customers using and loving your products. Offer tips, tidbits and fascinating facts. Make your videos as engaging and interesting as your photos, for a memorable effect and better engagement.
Be yourself. Authenticity sells in today’s online world. Social media loves authentic style, so don’t be afraid to show bloopers, mishaps and honest moments in your newsfeed.
Engage with your audience. Don’t be afraid to ask for comments, thoughts and shares on your Instagram posts. Let customers voice their opinions and share their thoughts. The higher the engagement on your posts, the better Instagram’s algorithm will rank them, pushing them to the top of your followers’ newsfeeds and gaining you more views. It can be scary at first to allow customers to comment, but if you manage the process carefully and remain vigilant for trolls, it can be an effective tactic.
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Instagram offers both users and advertisers many tools to share image-based messages. If Instagram is part of your social media strategy, investigating and testing the new, longer-length ads may prove to be beneficial to building your company’s brand, increasing site visits and improving retention rates.