Instagram is finally going to allow brands to place ads in the app that can link out of the social network. It announced today that businesses advertising on the photo-sharing platform will be able to use a new service called “carousel ads.” The feature will let people who like what they see swipe left to get more content, which will eventually lead to an option to visit an external site.
It’s a big deal for Instagram because up to now the app doesn’t allow brands to link out to external content. The social network is self-contained — users post photos/videos, like photos/videos, and that’s about it. Instagram is massive and immensely popular. But part of its charm is that its media is “constrained.” You cannot use it for spam photos, because you cannot link those photos to other sites.
Instagram’s introduction of the new format changes that. It says it’s “a new way for brands to share more images with people interested in their posts.” Carousel ads also function like magazine spreads by adding extra “pages” or images for users to look at beyond the simple square that most users get.
“A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model,” Instagram said. Users can still scroll past ads. Carousel ads launches today, but on a limited basis. The platform is still experimenting with what works best.
Instagram says that brands have been asking for this for a while. “They want more ways to tell their stories,” the company says.
Here are Instagram’s current stats: