It was only a matter of time before Instagram allowed advertisers to sell products through its app — long a source of frustration for fashion brands and retailers on the platform. On Tuesday, Instagram announced that it will begin testing a variety of new ad formats, allowing advertisers to sell products, solicit website sign-ups and prompt app downloads, all within Instagram.
We don't yet know how those ads will work — will users have to store their credit card info in the app to purchase, for example? — but Instagram did release some low-res screenshots of what those ads will look like. In the feed, they'll look pretty much the same as Instagram's current ads, accompanied by buttons reading "Shop Now," "Install Now," "Sign Up" and "Learn More" in the bottom right-hand corner.
The move will no doubt give product-posting brands further incentive to advertise, since only sponsored ads will be able to offer the "shop now" functionality. (If you'll recall, Instagram does not allow users to insert links in captions, so the only way to send followers to a product page is by encouraging them to click through to a link in the bio of their main profile, or using a workaround like Rewardstyle's Liketoknow.it platform.)
Here's what else Instagram is planning to introduce to its ad platform:
-More targeting capabilities. Instagram will be tapping into the data of its parent company, Facebook, to help advertisers better target users based on their demographics and interests, combining that with information businesses currently have about their customers.
-Opening up to small businesses. Small businesses have been a lucrative part of Facebook's overall ad business, and now it's opening up advertising on Instagram to them, too. In the coming months, advertisers will be able to purchase ads via an Instagram Ads API and Facebook's ad buying interfaces.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Kevin Systrom rubbed shoulders with many of the fashion industry's elite at the CFDA Awards, where he accepted the Media Award on behalf of Instagram, the first platform (rather than an individual) to receive it.
Pinterest, too, announced on Tuesday its plans to make its pins more "buyable" — and not just ads. Pins that link to a product page from a supported retailer will feature a "Buy it" button. Users will be able to scroll through different options, like sizes and colors, and tap to buy with Apple Pay or a credit card.
Social media and shopping: it's all getting so seamless.
This story was updated with information about Pinterest.