Tag Archives: Instagram

Instagram’s Native Advertising Experiment

We’re only a few scant weeks into Instagram’s very limited first run of advertisements. The popular visual media site introduced ads from select vendors, and they’ve been very careful with their approach. Similarly to Tumblr and Twitter, the social site is attempting to create a more “natural” advertising experience by including these images directly in users’ feeds, rather that requiring them to follow the advertiser.

The results have been… unsurprising. It seems no matter what approach companies take, many users loathe advertisements on principle. When they see the now-familiar “Sponsored” stamp, they rebel. It doesn’t matter whether they already follow the brand, whether they love the brand, or whether the ad is exceptionally well done. It’s an ad, and it’s in their previously ad-free space. They don’t want it there.

Instagram Advertising

It’s an interesting conundrum. Instagram has intentionally hand-picked specific advertisers who they feel are already members of the community, who have substantial followings that they built on merit and the quality of their offerings. Their goal is very much in line with Tumblr’s approach – they want to use the culture of the community they built to provide the most natural, unobtrusive experience possible for their users while also monetizing in order to create a successful business model. Tumblr does it with GIFs, and now Instagram’s doing it with high-quality photography.

The first official advertisement, a Michael Kors image that can be viewed here, seems like it should be an absolute no-brainer. It’s creative, simple, high-quality, and is completely in line with Instagram’s theme. It’s a photo the company posted to their own profile, which is already followed by 1.4 million users. The only difference is that pesky “Sponsored” stamp, and the fact that it’s showing up for users who aren’t necessarily following the brand.

But, as the article I linked earlier astutely points out, although the commenters are largely negative nellies, the amount of positive user interaction (hearts/likes, in this case) skyrocketed. As of this posting, 230,000+ users have liked the photo, which is many times more than the business’ average post. So, what does this tell us?

Unfortunately, without access to the analytics of the advertisement (particularly the negative feedback left by utilizing the “Report Inappropriate” option), it’s difficult to say what the effect of the advertisement truly is, and whether the positive outweighed the negative. However, I’d wager that it did.

Instagram Ben & Jerry's

This is the constant struggle with social media and online advertising – the public views these as “free” spaces, and they buck against the idea that they must put up with advertising in their “personal” space. No matter what you do, someone isn’t going to be happy about it. However, the approach is becoming ever-smarter. Going the route of cultivation, creativity, and niche targeting is the next stage in advertisement. Visual media is always becoming more relevant to search engines, particularly with regards to sharability, which is often tied to quality.

Users will never enjoy being advertised to, but we can at least aim to be interesting, engaging, and relevant. Just because it IS an ad doesn’t mean it has to FEEL like an ad. Gone are the days of the low-quality SALE! SALE! SALE! ads. The future is now. What do you think of this experiment in native advertising?

Stephanie Wargin is the Social Media Strategist at Zenergy Works, a web design and SEO company located in Santa Rosa, California. Her friends like to brush her hair into her eyes whenever she talks about Facebook.

What’s New for October 31, 2013 – Bing Optimization, Instagram Ads & Mozilla Lightbeam

Do You Optimize for Bing?

All SEO professionals and clients know that Google is the king of organic search. Searchmetrics recently released a report detailing the Bing Ranking Factors for Bing and it includes a Rank Correlation study for Bing to evaluate the factors that differentiate better-positioned websites from those with lesser rankings.

Searchmetrics studied over 10,000 keyword streams and 300,000 websites appearing in the top 30 search results and were able to identify 5 factors that seemed to heavily influence rankings. The 5 factors are listed here:

  • Quality content is a factor. The correlation on Bing was that sites with more text on them, in general, had better rankings. Bing tended not to rank pages with lots of pictures, while Google was the opposite.
  • Social signals help rankings, and Google+ “plus ones” had a significant rankings correlation, as did Tweets and Facebook Comments.
  • Known brands tend to have higher rankings and there are more Exact Match Domains (EMDs) ranking in the top ten search result listings, on average, at Bing.
  • Link numbers are significant. Approximately 53 percent of the backlinks of websites ranked among the top 30 results on Bing contained keywords in the anchor text. This is about 10% higher than Google.
  • Surprisingly, SEO elements such as H1 headings, site speed, and keyword-rich meta descriptions had a low correlation to high rankings. Positive on-page factors were present in nearly every page appearing in the top 30 search results at Bing, making good on-page SEO the prerequisite to obtaining good rankings.

Bing Search Rankings

Instagram Ads To Start This Week

A very small, select group of advertisers will begin introducing high quality brand-oriented ads that include video and imagery, into the Instagram news feed. The Instagram advertisers include Adidas, Levi’s, PayPal, Macy’s, Starwood Hotels and others, and were chosen because they have high-quality ads. The ads are designed to have a high level of artistic value and be more brand-centric than direct response in nature. Instagram’s take on the new ads is as follows:

“Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands. After all, our team doesn’t just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.”

The ads will have the ability to be targeted in nature, although the quality of the “rifle shot” online advertising approach remains to be seen.

Instagram Ads

Mozilla Lightbeam Helps You Find Out Who Is Watching You on the Internet

Mozilla, the open-source software company that makes the Firefox browser, wants to make it a bit easier for you to visualize what sites and third-party site services might be tracking or watching your Internet activity. The new add-on for your Firefox browser called Lightbeam lets you know who is watching you online.

Lightbeam offers a very clear toggle that allows you to turn which tracking you contribute to the service on and off. Download the add-on and try it.

Mozilla Lightbeam

Bottom Line: Privacy increases, new ad campaigns that promise to be targeted on social media… does anyone else see the potential new trend here? Social Media sites have targeted information, while search engines continue to fight privacy initiatives to continue to track data. If your business has a significant online marketing platform, these trends bear watching.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California based SEO, Website Design, and Online Marketing Firm.