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New: Paid Posts in Instagram’s Explore Tab

Phone showing the Explore tab in Instagram

In such an obvious move that I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming, Instagram will start phasing paid posts into the Explore tab.

Explore is where millions of us spend aimless hours scrolling and tapping, scrolling and tapping. Until now, Instagram has filled Explore with algorithmically curated content designed to delight our personal tastes.

Soon, we’ll be both delighted and poor, as social shopping continues to spread.

Why is Instagram finally monetising Explore?

Global social media use has flattened, increasing just 1% in the last year when 6% was more usual in previous years. Facebook’s daily usage actually fell by 1% between 2017 and 2018.

Instagram fared a little better – 2% growth in daily usage. But while usage growth is less than impressive, mobile ad spend is up-up-up. Instagram, in particular, is experiencing huge growth in ad revenue, at four times Facebook’s.

Social media platforms can take full advantage of the vast communities they already have by developing new strategies for making bank. Hence Instagram shoehorning ever more paid posts into their app.

How paid posts in Instagram Explore work

Instagram says it will start introducing ads into Explore ‘slowly and thoughtfully’, first to promote videos from IGTV and then for selected brands.

From Instagram’s teaser video, it looks like paid posts won’t appear IN your main Explore feed. When a user clicks something in Explore and chooses to scroll down from that full-screen post, that’s where ads will appear. That means the ads should be closely related to what the user found interesting, which is great for advertisers.

 

How paid posts in Explore affect you

Explore is where users discover accounts they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. 50% of Instagram’s users browse Explore every month and 80% happily follow business accounts, so it’s a powerful place for a brand.

For us as marketers, more paid post placements is a good thing, of course. Having your content positioned amongst a user’s favourite things and keenest interests… It’s a dream come true if the targeting is strong enough.

As Instagram is owned by Facebook, you’ll manage your Instagram Explore ads the same way: through Facebook Ads Manager. Hopefully, that means the same level of targeting. Less-than-perfectly-relevant content in Explore is not going to catch your targets eye in amongst a million other shiny things.

While we’re waiting for Instagram to roll out Explore paid posts to smaller businesses, get to grips with the rise of social shopping.