Opinion

Instagram Stories

Wait ’til I get my money right
Then you can't tell me nothing, right? 
—Kanye West, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

150m people use Instagram Stories every single day.

Five months after Instagram launched their Stories product, the Facebook-owned photo-and-video app’s version has acquired a daily audience as big as Snapchat’s. This new feature allows users to share ephemeral photos and videos that disappear after 24hours. Now, Instagram have announced they will launch Instagram Stories as a dedicated ad product in order to monetize this audience.

The Consumer Product

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder and chief executive recently admitted at the launch of the product in an interview with The Financial Times that he had borrowed “stories” from Snapchat but explained it would expand beyond this initial format.

This new feature launched with transient stories and the addition of text, emojis and drawings within the content. The first version of the product has been a roaring success. It is intuitive and sits at the very top of the mobile app before users start scrolling through their feed, naturally leading to more content creation.

Photo credit: Marketingland.com

While Instagram Stories is not a revolutionary product it is a smart feature to add. Snapchat stories proved to be a hit with its user base and is now a permanent feature within the app, which recently hit a mile stone of 600 million active users in December 2016.

The Business Products

In the coming weeks, Instagram Business Tools will release insights on their stories product. This allows brands to see reach, impressions, replies and exit metrics for each story with Business Tools. With access to these insights, brands can learn how to create more relevant content for their audience.

Photo credit: blog.business.instagram.com

Alongside insights, Instagram will also launch Instagram Stories as an ad product as full screen immersive video ads within the Newsfeed. These ads will be initially tested with 30+ selected global clients including: Capital One, Nike, Netflix and Qantas.

Photo credit: blog.business.instagram.com

Ads in Instagram Stories will appear between people's stories, and will be available to buy within the API, Power Editor, and Ads Manager in the coming weeks. After the closed beta tests end, we can expect to see the launch of full-funnel campaign objectives in the coming months. The wider roll out will allow advertisers to target users / audience profiles, reach as many of them as possible, and access Instagram's existing measurement & reporting capabilities. 

Instagram Stories vs Snapchat Stories

While we may see some big behavioural shifts between Snapchat and Instagram users, Instagram won’t kill Snapchat because it has scale. For this reason brands need to embrace both in order to win the attention of potential customers.

Snapchat is winning in terms of depth of attention with its users playing with features like sponsored lens’. The potential for driving earned media on the platform is enormous considering this is still a relatively new platform. As the category creator for ephemeral content, Snapchat still gets a lot of love from its core market of younger millennials. Furthermore, Snapchat has shown the world the value of “non-serious” and snackable content.

Conversely, Instagram’s core product resembles a gallery or “greatest hits” versus Snapchat which adopts a “rough and ready” approach to content creation. With Instagram, careful curation is the selling point of the platform offering advertisers an environment that inspires the creation of Vogue magazine quality creative.

Concluding thoughts

Competition for user attention on the internet is fierce.

Today we are seeing short-form, snackable and live content become key table stakes for all of the major social networks. Each platform has begun to slowly roll out these features in the past 18 months with each being given prominence within Timelines, Newsfeeds or Stories.

The growth of Instagram Stories is strong enough to endure any drop-off in usage that ads may cause. With parent company Facebook keen to monetize Instagram, the signs are clear that the $1bn acquisition is starting to look like a bargain.

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