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What Instagram Stories Ads Say About the Rise of Vertical Video

When Instagram released its Stories feature in August of last year, focused on short, ephemeral pieces of content, some wondered how it would integrate with existing consumer use of the platform. Just seven months later, the results have been exceedingly impressive, with more than 150 million people adopting the feature and using it on a daily basis. Strong early adoption has extended beyond user-to-user engagement, as business profiles have also realized success with audiences. This is demonstrated by the following key metrics:

  • 70 percent of Instagrammers follow a business profile
  • 1 in 5 Stories on Instagram gets a direct message from its viewers
  • One-third of the most viewed Stories are from business profiles

Additionally, the emergence of vertical video as a viable content format has become apparent. In the past couple of years, led by platforms like Snapchat along with Instagram, vertical video, especially in the shorter form, has taken on a significant importance in the consumer journey. Functionally, this makes sense. Certainly, watching a movie may be more enjoyable with a larger, wider screen. For short, typically ephemeral content, however, keeping the video vertical allows both the creator and the viewer to hold their mobile devices more naturally, resulting in a more comfortable experience.

Given the convergence of these trends, Instagram last week took the next step in adding value for brands, announcing the global launch of Instagram Stories Ads. After an initial test of 30+ global businesses earlier in the year, Instagram is opening the Ads offering to all brands, using the Marketing API, Power Editor, and Ads Manager tools. For brands, this release represents an opportunity to layer the sophisticated targeting capability proven by Facebook with the compelling storytelling offering enabled in Instagram Stories. Still, this presents a new challenge for brands, namely, how can they create enough high-quality, engaging content at scale to succeed?

At Olapic, we are very excited to be supporting the launch of Instagram Stories Ads with our creative video format solution, Content in Motion (CiM). CiM allows brands to take static imagery and transform it into beautifully animated content. While marketers have traditionally thought of visual content in a binary context (image vs. video) CiM combines intelligent technology with human ingenuity to fulfill the need for short-form video content, at scale. This content strategically serves Instagram Stories Ads for a few primary reasons:

  • Stories Ads are limited to one piece of media (e.g. a photo or up to 15-seconds of video)
  • The aspect ratio is 9:16, meaning that content must be designed with the vertical format in mind, a shift from traditional video creative execution and adaptation
  • Brands using Content in Motion are already seeing significant results with upwards of a 33% lift in post engagement in social feeds

Put differently, Content in Motion will enable brands to engage and convert their audiences on Instagram Stories in a more effective, scalable, and cost-efficient manner. There are a myriad of ways in which brands can utilize Instagram Stories Ads to engage with consumers. Our clients have uncovered several use cases for this content format, including:

  • Promoting time-sensitive offers
  • Displaying lookbooks creatively
  • Highlighting product features and usage
  • Teasing new releases
  • Collaborating with partners and individual creators
  • Demonstrating “how-to” programs

With Content in Motion, brands can design experiences to fit each of these use cases, and more, from educational content to seasonal messaging. “We have seen Instagram as a platform emerge as a powerful tool for businesses to reach and influence their target audiences through deeply visual experiences,” said Pau Sabria, co-founder of Olapic. “The early success of Instagram Stories demonstrates that consumers are embracing the personal connection created via stories and because of the channel’s ephemeral nature, brands can step outside the bounds of traditional advertising to test new forms of expression. Using tools such as Content in Motion provides brands with innovative animated content that feels native to stories and has proven to have great impact while being extremely cost-effective to produce.”

It will be interesting to see how brands innovate and adapt with this new channel, to both capture the attention of audiences and convert them into customers. We are very excited to be leading development of new creative solutions for our clients to help tackle these challenges, as our industry moves towards the future of content.

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