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In its latestpush for greater monetization, Instagram will place ads in its Explore section in the coming months, per Business Insider.
Explore presents an opportunity for brands to reach consumers at peak engagement: It’s wildly popular among users, and surfaces content relevant to users’ interests.Explore is used byover half of monthly active users on the platform, according to Instagram — that’s more than500 million accounts.
Instagram has been modifying Explore to fuel further engagement: Just last month it began including Stories in the section, for instance. It alsoadded Shopping and IGTV tabs along the top of the page in the hopes that the section’s high engagement would spill over to the respective features, which have been slow to catch on.
Explore ads will allow brands to target individuals more specifically, as creative will be served to a self-selecting group of users in search of new content. While ads that pop up in users’ dashes are targeted, they’re based on generally expressed interest, and served to all users — regardless of their desire to discover new things.
As Instagram’s head of business Jim Squirestold Business Insider, people already visit the section to discover new types of things — products and services included. That open-mindedness means they’re more likely to engage with posts from otherwise unknown sources, making the section a prime spot for ad placement.
It will allow brands, which were already able to post content from their own official Instagram accounts, to tap into the shopping potential that people looking at things like makeup tutorials or hiking trips might present. The opportunity has beencompared to that of Pinterest or Google, given that users are directly searching for content and ads will be served based on that expressed interest.
Instagram’s Explore page ads come as no surprise given its recent commitment to boost ad load, but it still raises questions about how much advertising users will tolerate. An Instagram spokesperson said thefollowing to Adweek: “We’re investing heavily in Explore with the goal of making it the best online destination for your interests and making it evolve over time as your interests do.”
But what if a user’s interest is to use the section ad-free? Some advertisers haveexpressed concern that given millennials’ propensity to distrust traditional ads, they’ll experience ads as harmful to the organic nature of the Explore experience.
Despite the brand hesitations, I think the draw of so many potential eyeballs will make the opportunity hard to resist, and Instagram will see high demand for its Explore inventory.
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