New Instagram format means more ads and more possibilities

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Instagram on an iPhone

Instagram users didn’t shed too many tears when the old square shape disappeared. For many, it was an inflexible window that obscured the more epic photos that people wanted to share, such as skyscrapers, waterfalls, horizons, and group shots.

Underneath the general satisfaction among some users who can now post landscapes to their hearts’ content is the fact that advertisers are even more excited. With the demise of the square format comes a wave of ads looking to exploit the new oblong platform.

Previous restrictions meant particular marketers, like Mountain Dew and Ortega Taco, whose ad campaigns tend to incorporate picturesque landscapes, will now be able to use Instagram more effectively.

Justin Renzani, the founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based theAmplify, an ad agency specialising in Instagram use, said: “It definitely increases flexibility. You get the full realisation of what that image is providing – the full story that the photographer wanted to tell.”

The Facebook-owned image sharing app has become increasingly active in monetising the service, and ads are a key feature of the strategy. Instagram has innovated to include a more diverse range of ads that offer users the chance to buy products, sign up for newsletters, and download apps. Recently, the company also introduced an API that vastly increased its list of advertisers from an exclusive list of big brands to any business.

Not everyone is happy with the changes. Some Instagram purists are bemoaning the loss of its iconic square feature. Similar to Twitter’s 140-character limit or Snapchat’s disappearing photos, the square was something that defined Instagram as a product. Despite the change being a gamble, the majority of users seem to be embracing the new format.

The key for the company moving forward will be to prevent ads and the new format from diluting the popular app’s core identity. Most social media services are evolving, including Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, and analysts are optimistic about Instagram’s prospects. The influential research form eMarketer believes that the new Instagram format will open up a range of possibilities and propel the platform to the top of the social media tree, possibly even by 2017.

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