Updated 17.11.15

You may or may not know that Instagram advertising is now open to any business that wishes to target the users of the giant photo-sharing platform. As I slide through my Instagram feed, I’m seeing more and more ads – the question is, are any of them any good? This is going to be a rolling post that will be regularly updated with examples of great Instagram adverts (I may throw in the occasional stinker too for contrast!) I’ll be assessing them based on creativity, suitability, copy and the reaction from users.


Huel, according to them, is a ‘nutritionally complete powder food’. They say it’s all you need to eat. Sounds joyless to me! Anyway, this ad caught my eye. The image is nothing special, yet its starkness does create intrigue. The reason I’m featuring this as a ‘good’ example though, is down to their communication with people asking questions or being negative about the product. They’re actually taking the time to respond in a thoughtful way, something that many brands fail to do. Remember, a social ad isn’t just display, you need to engage!




Inbound.org (bad)

You’d think that inbound.org, a huge and valuable community of digital marketers would know how to run a great Instagram ad. On this evidence, they don’t. This is a video ad. It starts with frankly crappy animation and takes a long time to get to the point. When a video pops up in your feed, you need to actively select to hear the sound. In order for me to do that, the imagery needs to compel me to do so. Fail. The users think the same.




Virgin Games (another bad!)

Feedback from Instagram users states that they don’t want ads with load of text. Of course, most of them don’t want ads full-stop. This example from Virgin Games is firstly ugly, but also riddled with text. It looks more like a good-old banner ad. The users don’t like it either. Instagram is supposed to be pretty to look at – this approach goes right against that. You should always look at how a platform works.



Marks and Spencer

M&S are known for ‘foodporn’ – making your mouth water via seductive food shots. Their TV ads are famous for it and they’ve now taken that approach onto Instagram. This is a video ad that immediately caught my eye and the attention of my stomach. The product looks great and the format is perfect for IG – they’re clearing creating bespoke versions of ads to ensure impact.

One grumble would be the length of the copy – they could reduce that and still have an impact without the ‘more’ link being required. Some carefully selected hashtags would also have extended the organic reach of the ad. The reaction to the ad is great, with people sharing it, stating intent to buy and generally reacting positively.

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Amazon Video UK – Mr Robot

This is another video ad and the imagery within it is brilliant, it intrigued me and made an instant impact. I actually started watching Mr Robot due to this ad having clicked the ‘Learn more’ button to erm, learn more!

The copy uses a hasthtag that’s tied in with the show – #wearefsociety which is a bit confusing if you have no prior knowledge and doesn’t add a huge amount to the ad. #AllEpisodes is also a bit of a waste of pixels. All in all though, a nice ad that converted at least me and looks to have gone down well with others. See their Instagram account here.

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John Lewis

Clothing retailers are launching winter fashion lines aplenty and the same goes for John Lewis. They’ve used a video (see the theme here?!?) to display various elements of the range they stock. It’s great as it builds up in a hyperlapse style and gives me plenty to get my eyes around. The copy is short and sharp, although it’s a dubious attempt at spelling essentials! The user comments are excellent. Nice job!

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Here’s a bad one – Tamara Mellon

This is quite a cool ad, again using a video, and it caught my eye, however the thing that makes it bad is the targeting – surely they should only be pushing this ad to females? Yes, I may buy as a gift, but the copy should suggest that if that was the case. Also, there’s no call to action button being used. Nice creative, poor execution.


That’s all for now, I’ll be adding to this post on a regular basis, so check back for updates. You can of course subscribe via email or RSS in the boxes at the end of the post!

If you have any questions about Instagram or any other form of social media advertising, please feel free to give me a call on 0131 344 4599 (+44131 344 4599 from overseas) or email me and I’ll be more than happy to expand on these points and answer any questions you may have. Also feel free to leave a comment on this post (scroll down…) or tweet me @mike_mcgrail.

Header image via Shutterstock.

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