This time last year, Instagram ad spend growth was skyrocketing, with reports the platform was seeing four times the rate of ad spend growth than Facebook. This trend appears to be leveling out, according to Kenshoo’s quarterly trends report for the second quarter of 2019. The ad management platform reports Instagram ad growth is “now roughly at parity” with Facebook ad growth.
What’s remarkable from Kenshoo’s findings is that advertisers’ share of spend on Instagram Story ads doubled year-over-year from 9% to 18% in the second quarter of 2019.
“The hypervisual format [Story Ads] grew 186% in spending compared to the same quarter last year, while Instagram Feed ad spending slowed to just 21%, slower than Facebook News Feed,” writes Kenshoo in its report.
Are default placement selections driving Story ad adoption? For marketers wanting to fine-tune their Instagram social ad spend, it’s worth noting when a specific ad format experiences exponential growth. But, the question is whether or not Instagram Story ad growth is a result of the ad unit’s performance or Facebook’s own prodding to get more advertisers to run Story ad campaigns.
“I think that a big part of this lift in spend is people placing ads in Instagram Stories without knowing it, i.e. running automatic placements,” said Jessica Budde, a digital marketer at digital marketing agency Cypress North, “In chatting with several Facebook reps about how to improve campaigns in recent months, I’ve been told on several occasions that letting campaigns run with automatic placements is the best way for Facebook to learn about your audience and get you the best results.”
Budde said she has never done that for any of her clients, but believes a lot of advertisers may be following that advice from Facebook, thus driving up the number of Instagram Story ad placements. Budde’s agency has also noticed Facebook pushing Story ads when an advertiser deselects it as a placement option.
“After creating a video ad, an auto-created story pops up already cropped to vertical dimensions along with a message that notes how to go back and turn Instagram or Facebook Stories on as a placement to use that creative,” said Budde.
More visibility into Stories may be impacting Story ad growth. Akvile DeFazio, president of social media agency AKvertise, said Instagram announced earlier this summer it was planning to show more ads on the platform, in Stories, in particular.
“As a user and an advertiser, I can certainly attest to that, as I’ve seen more and have noticed impression share increasing in most of our client accounts,” said DeFazio, “With increased visibility, we’ve had more clients create Stories-specific content, which has helped increase CTRs and overall conversions for some e-commerce clients.”
She reports her agency has seen success when intentionally placing ads in Instagram stories (versus running automatic placement campaigns).
“While using automatic placements is common among advertisers and is efficient, I can only speak for certain about our strategies as we are intentionally planning Stories campaigns with our clients to give them the best chance for success,” said DeFazio. “If we’re in a pinch and need to run promotions, then we allow automatic placements to do their job.”
Why we should care. Instagram Story ads have been around for more than two years now, but this current trend shows their popularity is quickly growing. If you’re not testing Story ads yet, they may be worth another look depending on your campaign objectives and resources to create ads tailored to the format.