Instagram began testing ads in its Instagram Shop in early August, and the initial US-based partners in the test run included Away, Fenty Beauty, and Clare paint. Instagram and the test companies were apparently satisfied with the test launch, so they rolled out the ad feature globally on August 24th in countries where the tab is available. 

The way it works is that someone can click on the ad, and it will bring them to the Product Details Page, where they can learn more about the item, view additional imagery, and browse additional products from the brand. 

The real test, though, is how this feature goes over with users and if brands experience increased sales as a result. 


Ads In Shop

People can visit a shop from a business Instagram profile or through Feed and Stories. Once they’re in Shop, they can browse products, explore collections, and purchase products– seamlessly through the in-app browser or without leaving the app from shops with checkout. The addition of ads provides another layer of suggestions and options for users already in Shop. 

“Today, we’re launching ads in the Instagram Shop tab globally to make it easier for people to discover and shop from brands when they’re already in the mood to browse,” Instagram explained

They further explain that ads will appear as tiles on the Instagram Shop tab home page. Clicking on the ad will bring users to the Product Details Page, where they can learn more about the item, view additional imagery, and browse additional products from the brand. They can also save the product to their wish list or share it with friends and hide or report the ad.

As a fully dedicated shopping feature, users can discover and shop new trends, see the latest products, and support small businesses–all in one place. And for sellers, the feature allows them to introduce their products to more people. If there’s unused space on Instagram, users should expect ads to be there. It’s still unclear how successful these ads are in driving purchases, but brands are eager to try it out to ensure their products are seen by Instagram’s users, which are one billion and counting.


The Benefits To Users And Businesses

The debut of ads in its Shop tab is intended to strengthen Instagram’s e-commerce offering, which indicates how the online shopping space is growing in popularity across all mobile-facing social media platforms. Instagram is aware of this popularity and is attempting more features to attract more advertisers and consumers to their platform.   

According to Hannah Gardner, Senior Associate of Acquisition Marketing at Away, the ads tiles were beneficial during the test launch. 

“I’ve found the most success running ads in an environment where the consumer is already in a shopping mindset, which the Shop tab naturally attracts,” Gardner said. “The more frequently I can get in front of the consumer in that mindset, the better my potential for ROI.”

Including ads on Shop provides a streamlined process of product discovery for users on mobile devices. By simply clicking on an ad tile, users will be brought to the Product Details Page, displaying additional items that users can save or share with friends through messaging or tagging. Instagram stresses that one of the main selling points of providing ads in Shop is how easy it is for items to be browsed and passed around. If businesses can get their products in front of people already in Shop, it could be more lucrative for them. 

Even though this feature provides more access to products for Instagram users, it is still a sticky point for some because some see Instagram as moving from its traditional photo sharing purpose to a more consumer-oriented one. 

TechCrunch recently explained that the Instagram Shop tab had been one of the app’s more controversial additions because it replaced the heart button in the bottom navigation row, a popular feature for users. Many complained that the change “made the app feel more commercially driven than in the past and seemed to alienate some users.” 


In Closing

Despite some criticism, businesses seem to be on board with the ads option, and users are shopping more through Instagram’s Shop feature, so the ads can only be a bonus for those looking to sell more products. Whether Shop ads provide businesses with what they are looking for remains to be seen, but as the feature grows, it will be easier to determine just how effective it is. 

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