Advertisers, Take Note of Instagram’s Ad Rules & Regs

instagram ads

Advertisers who are eager to take advantage of Instagram’s advertising feature shouldn’t rush in too quickly. Why? Although the training they’ve received from creating visually appealing social ads will serve them well, the rules and regulations waiting for them on Instagram really are game changers.

In an interview with Business Insider, Jim Squires, Instagram’s director of market operations, detailed some of the elements and tactics that advertisers are not allowed to employ on Instagram. Here’s a sampling:

  • Clients are not allowed to repurpose images they previously used elsewhere, in other ads for instance.
  • No heavy use of image filters.
  • No text is allowed on ad imagery in Instagram.
  • No gimmicks!
  • Clients cannot put their logos on the ads (although if a product logo appears in a photo as a natural, non-obvious part of a scene, that is allowed).
  • Images must be “true to your brand” — and not be cheesy or shocking.
  • Ads should take their cues from existing creative community hashtags that are popular on Instagram.
  • Ads should capture “moments,” not products. Ads must not simply be a product shot, in other words.
  • Users will not see the same creative twice inside Instagram.

As the rules detail, the key to Instagram advertising is capturing “moments” — not displaying products. Informality, emotion and authenticity are the elements that are going to make a photo resonate with a viewer. This Mother’s Day contribution from Gap would definitely make a great ad.

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This product-centric snap from Coach, on the other hand, wouldn’t meet Instagram’s approval.

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What does this mean for advertisers? It’s time to start thinking outside the box. What passes in print, display advertising and, even, Facebook advertising, won’t necessarily work in Instagram. Those marketers using puppies and recipes to drive engagement around their non-pet and non-recipe brands will be forced to reassess their strategy, and, ultimately, it will benefit the brand as much as it benefits the Instagram users who will see their ads. In a nutshell, ads that don’t read as ads stand a much better chance of engaging the Instagram audience.

Need a refresher course in what types of visual content work best in social media? Get the rundown here.