Study Examines 44 Billion Instagram Ad Impressions; Spending Skyrockets While CPM Holds Steady

Study Examines 44 Billion Instagram Ad Impressions; Spending Skyrockets While CPM Holds Steady

In 36 Month Analysis, Brand Networks Chronicles Instagram’s Maturity

Brand Networks, the company recently named a “Leader” in Social Advertising Technology by independent analyst firm Forrester Research, released the findings of a study analyzing 36 months of data and examining more than 44 billion Instagram ad impressions served on behalf of the company’s customers. The report, which looks at advertising trends from June 2015 to July 2018, reveals Instagram’s stunning growth since the launch of its Ads API, its price stability over time, and the rise of video-based content on the platform.

“Brand Networks is one of the few companies that’s had access to Instagram’s Ads API since it first launched back in 2015,” said Dave Fall, CEO of Brand Networks. “This means we have the historical knowledge to chronicle Instagram’s growth and benchmark performance. In this analysis, we have uncovered valuable insights with the goal of informing advertisers about how best to utilize Instagram. Brand Networks has evolved alongside this high-performing channel, and we have witnessed the rapid adoption of new formats like Stories and the rising consumer appeal of video on Instagram. We’re excited to see Instagram continue to boom and become an increasingly important tool for advertisers.”

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In 2016, Brand Networks conducted the inaugural Instagram advertising research report — Instagram Ads: A Picture of Growth — to detail the platform’s first steps into API-based advertising. Since then, Instagram’s ad offerings have advanced significantly. This report determines just how vast Instagram’s presence in the advertising industry has become, and measures the weight it now carries in advertisers’ budgets.

Key Findings

Instagram Ad Spending Has Skyrocketed

Instagram investment through Brand Networks has ballooned since the introduction of advertising on the platform in 2015. Instagram ad spend increased nine-fold between 2015 and 2017, with a growth rate of at least 57 percent each year; and this is just the beginning.

  • In the first six months of 2018, Instagram advertisers utilizing Brand Networks to manage media had already spent 81 percent of what was spent during the entirety of 2017.
  • Brand Networks predicts advertisers will spend over 65 percent more on Instagram this year than in 2017.
  • Since the dawn of Instagram advertising, the total number of ad impressions served through Brand Networks has increased at least 46 percent every year, with investment increasing at least 57 percent annually, as well.

With various options for advertisers, including Instagram Stories ads, in-app payments, and shopping tags, the platform has ushered in a new era of Instagram advertising with an abundance of business-centric capabilities. With these enhancements, Brand Networks projects that impressions will grow more than 80 percent between 2017 and 2018, with increased spend to follow.

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Video Is the Uncontested Creative Format on Instagram

Video remains the shining star on Instagram. The platform’s immersive video ads and features keep users engaged, and consuming video is a mainstay activity.

  • In the six months from January to the end of June 2018, Brand Networks served as many video impressions as in all of 2017.
  • In the same period, video content made up 66.2% of the total ad impressions served on Instagram, providing evidence that the users’ advertising experience is led by video on both Feeds and Stories.
  • And, video has dominated the ad experience created by Media & Entertainment, CPG, and Retail brands, representing 78 percent, 73 percent, and 60 percent of the impressions served by these industries, respectively.

Instagram’s CPMs Are Holding Steady

While demand increased, the same can’t be said for cost-per 1,000 impressions (CPM). Average CPM has mostly held steady. Overall, Brand Networks witnessed a small increase in average CPMs in 2017, but is observing a return to 2016 norms in 2018. Combined, price stability and increased spend are an indicator that the increased investment in Instagram is not reflective of price inflation, but rather, an increase in demand from the market.

  • While Brand Networks served just 2 billion impressions in the first six months of Instagram advertising, that number jumped to 44 billion in the first 36 months; during that time, the average CPM has dropped by 19.7 percent.
  • After increasing slightly in 2017, average CPM over the first six months of 2018 is just $4.91; this year could mark an annualized all-time high for efficiency on the channel for many advertisers.
  • With the exception of Financial Services, all industries that Brand Networks collected CPM data for over the 4-year period maintained steady price efficiency.

Overall, advertisers are flocking to Instagram. The channel continues to demonstrate an ability to help advertisers reach their business objectives, and can be relied upon to deliver high performance and stable price efficiency at scale, across a broad range of industries and advertising goals.

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