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Instagram Partnership Ads - a game-changer for collaborative advertising

If you’re crazy about influencer content and you spend your Saturday nights researching how it’s integrated into the paid funnel (just us?), then there’s a chance you stumbled upon Instagram's ‘announcement’, rebranding its influencer partnership product...

When we say announcement, we’re referring to a 170-word blog that gives you the very basics into potentially the biggest shakeup to collaborative advertising since the creation of the paid partnership product...

So in case you missed this announcement (hehe), we’ve broken down what has changed within Meta’s paid partnership product, the meaningful implications it has when it comes to working with influencers, and our own thoughts on the future of collaborative content.

Meta's example of the content a brand could run partnership ads across
Meta's example of the content a brand could run partnership ads across

What are Instagram Partnership Ads?

Meta has updated its Instagram creator ads product, rebranding ‘content ads’ to ‘Instagram Partnership Ads.’ The rebranding essentially acts as an upgrade, with additional features allowing for more effective use of influencer collaborations. So although the concept behind partnership ads isn’t new, the naming and scope of use have changed significantly.

More specifically:

  • The update allows brands to produce content in partnership with a creator, without using an existing post (creating a dark ad)

  • Advertisers can boost more variations of UGC, including branded content with the paid partnership label, Instagram Collab posts, @mentions, people tags, product tags, and other content without the paid partnership label

  • Once a creator has accepted the partnership request, their audience is shared with the brand, enabling custom audiences to be created. This includes: everyone who has engaged with the creator's account, followers, users who have visited the account, and users who have saved any post or ad

How are Instagram Partnership Ads different from before?
  • Previously, advertisers/ brands were only able to boost existing organic creator content with the paid partnership label

  • This meant when brands were using influencer content in paid campaigns, there were two options:

    1. boost content from the influencers page through the paid partnership label

    2. use the creator’s content and run as a dark ad (unable to link the creator's handle as a sponsored partner)

  • The update now allows for the creation of dark ads with the paid partnership label, resulting in a third option for utilising influencer content

  • When using influencer content in paid campaigns, the most effective method of targeting was through interest-based proxies of the influencer's followers

For example…

In a parallel universe, say Heinz identified football fans as their prime target audience and created an influencer campaign where Halland ate beans as a nutritious halftime snack...

When using this content in paid campaigns, Heinz would have to build an audience for football fans based on interest pools that Meta has created. To generate these pools, Meta uses data from content that users have interacted with, and the problem is (shock!) Meta’s algorithms are not perfect.

For instance, you might despise football and wonder how you can spend 105 minutes watching TV for there to be 1 shot on target and no goals… However, you may like a goal posted by @Ladbible, and because of this, Meta includes you in one of its football-related interest pools. This would mean that you're included in Heinz’s targeting, and served a video of the Man City squad eating a can of ‘Halland's halftime Heinz’. So, even though you're not actually part of Heinz’s prime target audience, you'd be included in it according to Meta.

To get around this, the most effective way to reach their target audience would be to directly serve ads to Halland’s followers, the users who are most influenced by Halland. And right on cue, the update to the partnership product means an influencer's audience is shared with the advertiser/ brand - Heinz can now serve ads directly to Halland’s followers, more effectively reaching and influencing their target audience vs. interest-based targeting.

Importantly, once Heinz has accepted Halland as a paid partner, they’re able to use Halland's handle alongside Heinz’s in a dark ad, without extra permission from Halland. This effectively gives them free rein of the ad creative variables and needs no further approval from Halland, provided he's tagged them in the post. It should be noted that, on Instagram, Halland can see active and inactive ads and has the ability to pause them, however, he would not receive a notification of when the ad goes live. So in theory, once Heinz has Halland as a paid partner, they could create unlimited ads in partnership with Halland, with different copy and creatives, without Halland's approval…

Ultimately, what does this change to Instagram Partnership Ads mean for brands?
  • Increased reach effectiveness with target audience - we’re able to target the followers of users and create lookalikes of users who have engaged with the influencer's profile, building a more specific targeting pool vs. our current interest-based lookalikes

  • Increased effectiveness for utilising influencers as a credible role in driving demand gen

  • Ability to continually leverage creator partnership permissions (without having to gain access each time)

Our own thoughts...

There’s no doubt that sharing custom audiences is massively beneficial to the influencer and brand. However, given the limited transparency of new ads being set up, it does seem like a ticking time bomb until an advertiser/ brand purposely or accidentally uses a large influencer's handle (like Halland's) in a campaign that they’ve not been made aware of.

When this happens it is likely that the partnership product is revamped to include greater security, with the influencer having to approve each individual ad. Perhaps this is why Instagram ‘secretly’ announced the rebranding of content ads, and this isn’t the finished product.


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