The popular photo-sharing app Instagram is now allowing more advertisers into its inner circle. It has initiated an API that allows advertisers to use third parties such as Brand Networks and Salesforce to incorporate their own campaigns.
In the past, Instagram has worked exclusively with big brands that it developed a direct relationship with. This latest decision will open this arrangement up to a much larger range of companies to advertise on the platform. By opening up the Instagram product, advertisers can gain access to more than 300 million Instagram users.
Brand Networks CEO Jamie Tedford said: “It has been, among our customers, one of the most anticipated launches we’ve ever seen.”
Research firm eMarketer is boldly predicting that Instagram could become a dominant force in social media marketing, even overtaking the likes of Google and Twitter.
This isn’t the first move Instagram has made to gain more profit from its product. The addition of outside links, ads, and buy buttons are just a few of the changes to the Instagram structure. However, some analysts are concerned that this might undermine the very thing that makes Instagram so popular.
eMarketer’s principal analyst, Debbie Williamson, believes that the company is well aware of the potential pitfalls and has proceeded carefully as a result.
She said: “People are going to see more ads but I don’t think they’re going to see a lot more ads … They are just going to see different types of advertisers and ads.”
Until now, Instagram has closely managed the advertising it does allow through. The ads have generally been well-groomed before their release and aimed at raising brand awareness rather than offering links to purchases or apps.
“It will be interesting to see if the engagement level continues without Instagram hand-holding advertisers, as it has been for the past couple of years,” Williamson added.
Instagram must continue to manage an ongoing balancing act. The company needs to maintain its high standards and the visually appealing nature of the platform whilst providing a more flexible environment in which advertisers can flourish.