Instagram partners with Omnicom to launch ad service in the UK

Instagram, the photo-sharing app acquired by Facebook in 2012, has launched its much-anticipated advertising service in the UK today through an initial partnership with Omnicom Media Group.

 Instagram: partners with Omnicom to launch ad service in the UK
Instagram: partners with Omnicom to launch ad service in the UK

Seven brands managed by Omnicom Media Group agencies Manning Gottlieb OMD, OMD, M2M and PHD have become the first to roll out ads in users’ Instagram feeds: Starbucks, Cadbury, Channel 4, Rimmel, Estee Lauder and Waitrose.

Sponsored photos and videos now appear in Instagram's main feed, identified with a sponsored label – but otherwise similar to other photos and videos users see in their feed.

Users are able to assert some control over the ads by being be able to hide the ones they do not like, and provide feedback about what they didn’t feel was right.

Comments will be moderated, however, with profanity filters hiding inappropriate comments.

During the next few weeks, commercial activity on Instagram will be restricted to Omnicom Media Group brands following a deal valued at up to $100 million (£61 million) in annual spend in March 2014.

James Quarles, global head of business and brand development at Instagram, told Campaign that agencies will play a key role in creating the right brand experience on Instagram going forward.

The company views its potential not as a direct response vehicle, but more as "a brand-building platform".

Quarles said the most effective use of Instagram for brands was to "try and capture moments more than the product".

He said Instagram captures the way people are consuming media today, with the shift towards visual communications via mobile devices.

Quarles described the creative challenge for brands as: "If you wanted to create an ad and couldn’t use words, what would you use?"

He insisted Instagram intends to roll ads out slowly over time, with the focus on delivering "a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos".

The photo-sharing company likens its "seamlessly integrated" ads to the "high-quality ads you see while flipping through your favourite magazines".

Philippa Brown, chief executive at Omnicom Media Group UK, said: "As a forward-looking organisation with a focus on creativity, Omnicom Media Group UK is proud to be the first mover agency as Instagram launches its advertising offer in our market, and we’re looking forward to helping our clients optimise the creative and strategic opportunities that this new form of brand storytelling delivers."

Today’s launch of Instagram ads in the UK follows the November rollout in the US, and further launches are planned in Australia and Canada in the coming weeks.

Ian Cranna, vice-president of marketing and category at Starbucks EMEA, said: "We remain committed to being at the forefront of digital innovation, so it’s great to partner with Instagram on this launch, enabling us to reach more of our customers in genuine ways and via such a relevant platform."

Rupert Ellwood, head of marketing communications at Waitrose, said: "We know our customers enjoy sharing their love of food. Instagram is where people go to capture and share moments so it is the perfect place for us to engage the community around our love of food #LoveFood."