Advertisers Can Now Add Action Buttons Like “Shop Now” To Instagram Ads

adshopnowThe days of an ad-free Instagram are long gone, lost in the pre-Facebook ownership days, so it might be no surprise that the photo-and-video-sharing social media app will now feature ads that let viewers take action beyond liking or commenting on them.

A year and a half after Instagram first introduced ads, the company says advertisers can now embed “action-oriented” buttons including “Shop Now”,”Sign Up” and “Install Now” below the photos in their ads.

Once you’ve clicked on a button, you won’t be taken away from the app completely. A mini-browser opens within the app, allowing a user to return to Instagram after they’ve finished their transaction.

This is part of Instagram’s overall effort to keep users in its app in a smooth, straightforward browsing experience an Instagram executive told TechCrunch.

“Instagram is not an index or collection of the web where syndicated links matter, it’s about photos people take. You’re not retweeting, regramming, or passing a link on,” the company’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development James Quarles explained to TechCrunch. “In these cases where there are businesses… we think that it’s a very lightweight experience to go into an in-app browser… and then come back to the app. We’re staying true to the values of simplicity.”

Although users will be able to buy things from companies, it won’t be processing e-commerce payments inside the app, Quarles says, at least not yet.

“We’re watching the space closely. We want to help reduce the friction from the point of inspiration to transaction.”

The new formats will be rolling out gradually, with tests starting later this week in Spain.

You might be seeing more ads in general as well, as Instagram also notes in the post that it’s planning to open the Instagram feed to all advertisers — that means the local spots as well as national brands will be able to target ads to users by interest, age, gender and location as well as “because of the people, places and things they love.”

“Working with Facebook, we will enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers,” Instagram’s blog post says. “We will also improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see.”

Instagram Beefs Up Ads With App Install And Buy Buttons, Interest Targeting, API [TechCrunch]