Instagram Reels out its new Ads – What this means for Instagram Ad Capabilities.

GRO Intern Stella Holt shares her thoughts on Instagram’s rollout of the Reels ad placement and how it gives advertisers new and creative ways to reach their audience.

Oh yes it’s Reel! On June 16th Instagram made it official that they are going after TikTok’s ad platform. Just two weeks later the Reels ads have already proven to be an enticing new feature for brands looking to expand their video ad capability. Instagram Reels ads are full screen and vertical, similar to ads in Stories, and will appear in between individual Reels. These ads are played on a loop and can be up to 30 seconds. People can comment, like, view, save, and share Reels ads.

Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels run videos that people can scroll through and interact with. TikTok ads have done tremendously well, and many apps are trying to piggyback off of that success. Just like any other ad on Instagram, people have control of the Reels ads they see. If people see an ad they don’t like, they can skip the ad, or tap the menu on the post to hide or report it.

My first thought when I began to explore Instagram Reels is that it is just TikTok but for the older generation. For example, recently my Dad discovered Instagram Reels. He sent me one via DM saying, “Just discovered Instagram Reels, these are hilarious!” I told him I loved that he was exploring the app and went on about my day. This might seem like an isolated daughter and dad connecting over social media but, it seems to be happening a lot. Many older Instagram users appreciate the Reels feature because it allows them to keep up with similar trends their children or grandchildren might be seeing on TikTok or other apps.

The addition of ads to the Reels feature is going to allow brands to reach an entire new audience. Many brands who are already on TikTok are now going to have another way to show video ads that aren’t just on Instagram Stories. Instagram also has many targeting capabilities that TikTok hasn’t even enabled yet. Right out the gate, Instagram Reels Ads allow brands to directly target their chosen audience.

While the ability to skip the ads is there, many brands have gotten super creative with their videography and production which makes the ads more interesting to the consumer. I found myself watching a couple of ads all the way through because I simply liked how they were done.

Reels ads have only been around for a few weeks, and as Instagram grows and experiments with the Reels platform the ads will only get better. Instagram previously tested the Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including Brazil, Germany and Australia. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Louis Vuitton, Netflix and Uber.

Instagram has yet to release any analytics behind how well the ads are doing or how often people are receiving ads. Nor, are they offering any creator tools or templates that could help brands get started with Reels. Instagram is assuming they already have a creative team on hand, or experience with the format through other apps. With feedback from brands and users of Instagram coming in it will be interesting to see what Instagram keeps or updates about the Reels ads.

As brands experiment with the Reels capability, there are three main things that I will be watching for in the future.

  1. Will Instagram begin to fund creator content directly through ad placement? Something that IG’s rivals TikTok and Snap have done, which have made their platforms a more compelling destination. 
  2. Currently the IG Reels ads link directly to the brands website, will Instagram begin to link ads to the shopping feature already embedded into the app?
  3. Money, money, money — I’m just genuinely curious to see how much ad revenue Instagram reel advertising generates versus Tik Tok.