Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform globally. But until recently – and despite being an image-rich app with a relatively affluent user-base – Instagram hadn’t managed to take quite the same strides into advertising opportunities as its rivals.

A report conducted by eMarketer, however, has forecast that using Instagram for advertising is about to explode, as the company opens up new ad products to its audience. The conclusion? Instagram is set to generate ‘$595 million in mobile ad revenues worldwide this year’.

But, while that’s an impressive figure, in the US (Instagram’s largest market) Twitter is expected to generate more than twice that revenue. Google? Nearly three times as much.

Not so in 2017. Expand the parameters of the report and Instagram’s net mobile ad revenue for the US, it is thought, will overhaul the lead of Google and Twitter.

Worldwide, in 2017, Instagram will rake in an eye-watering $2.81bn in mobile ad revenues, $2.39bn of which will be accounted for by the US. Compare that to US figures of $2.38bn and $2.29bn for Google and Twitter, respectively.

Clearly, it is expected that companies in the US and worldwide will be willing to spend on Instagram advertising campaigns, and spend big. But why? And why should your business be using Instagram for advertising?

Popularity

Popularity is perhaps the most obvious indicator that you should consider using Instagram for advertising. At the end of last year the platform announced that it had reached 300 million users worldwide. It is now the second largest social media network in the US.

And while Instagram hasn’t managed to replicate this phenomenal success worldwide, but with 14 million active monthly users in the UK. Considering the population of the UK – circa 65 million – that figure represents a sizeable market that should be difficult to ignore.

Using Instagram for Advertising

You can’t, however, assess the value of popularity without understanding who you’re popular with. That’s where Instagram excels.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Centre, Instagram’s user base represents a young, urban (or semi-urban), wealthy and educated portion of society. Instagram users are willing to and, most importantly, have the power to spend.

Content Format

Heavily image-based, Instagram is a natural fit for native advertising. As all of the network’s most popular users know, success on Instagram comes from the use of high-quality, eye-catching and consistent imagery.

This fits exactly with what you should be trying to achieve with your branding and advertising.

Following the introduction of its very first ads, the network took a look at how effective Instagram campaigns run by Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s had been.

Instagram Advertising UK

The results, they found, were extremely promising. Ben & Jerry’s, for instance, reached 9.8 million people in the US over an 8 day period, achieving ‘a high impact with a very low average frequency of ad impressions per user’.

More importantly, 17% of users who saw the ad – even just once – became aware of the flavour and associated it directly with the brand.

“Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually. Ads on Instagram let us reach and engage with more fans about our flavors, fun and values.” – Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager, Ben & Jerry’s

It seems that despite the relative infancy of the Instagram ads experience, the platform can be used to generate excitement around and knowledge of a brand. The reason? It’s reliance on eye-catching imagery.

Instagram Ads Expansion

When Instagram first set out to monetise feeds with advertising it was an option only open to companies in certain regions and of certain sizes. They were testing the waters, if you will.

Last month, Instagram announced that it was opening up its advertising platform ‘to businesses of all types and sizes.’ Good news!

Though this plan hasn’t yet come to fruition – ads on Instagram are still very expensive – you can expect the process of buying ad space on Instagram to fall more in line with Facebook’s current offering.

Instagram Advertising Campaigns

Think call to action buttons (so called ‘direct response formats’) and the ability to target exactly those you want to reach. And, naturally, a Facebook-style advertising interface making the Instagram ads experience more intuitive and accessible.

Once this change occurs, it’s no stretch to predict that Instagram’s advertising platform will explode in popularity.

Conclusion

Using Instagram for advertising is about to become an exciting prospect, if it wasn’t already.

It’s a network that’s expected to continue its rise to dominance alongside parent company Facebook. With that growth comes a wealth of opportunities – even in the UK – to drastically improve brand awareness and product recognition.

Though not currently as accessible as advertising platforms on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram’s API will soon emerge from its infancy and become a much more complete advertising option.

When that time comes, it’s certainly a channel you should be considering seriously if there’s room in the budget. If there isn’t? It’s feasible that the growth of Instagram’s competitors – likely Twitter – could feel increasingly hard done by.