Instagram Begins Gradual Roll Out Of Sponsored Ads In UK


After being trialled in the US at the end of last year, seven UK advertisers have become the first to take advantage of Instagram’s new “Sponsored” paid-for ad unit.

Reported by Marketing Week, Starbucks, Cadbury, Channel 4, Rimmel, Estee Lauder, Sony Music and Waitrose took to the photo-sharing platform on September 23, in an effort to raise brand awareness amongst its 200 million monthly active users.

The sponsored units are charged on a cost-per-mille basis and brands can choose to target who sees their ad by age, gender and geography. The ads are required to adhere to Instagram’s strict guidelines to ensure that the advertising looks as natural as possible compared to the organic content. This means that images with text overlay, too much white space or looking overly-edited will not get signed off. At the moment, each ad is being given final approval by Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and global head of business and brand development James Quarles.

Instagram hopes that keeping this advertising in-keeping with the creative nature of the platform means it will minimise the backlash from users. Instagram’s own sponsored ad, to inform of incoming advertising, was met with hostility.

Quarles said: “That post was important to set expectations for the community, allowing users to understand the ‘Sponsored’ tag and [their ability to provide] feedback on each ad, giving them control over the ads they see.”

In the US, campaigns have reported significant uplift in brand metrics after advertising on Instagram. Campaigns by Ben & Jerry’s, yoghurt brand Chobani, Starbucks and Taco Bell all reported an increase in ad recall.

A Marketing Week source revealed that the UK Instagram campaigns consist of between four and six posts and are being sold to marketers at a cost between £50,000 and £60,000.