Instagram officially brings ads to its TikTok Reels competitor

Instagram will bring ads to its short-form video service and copycat TikTok reels on Thursday, following a trial run.

The Reels feature, which was launched in August last year, allows users to create short video clips and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app. Instagram COO Justin Osofsky said the company wanted the organic experience for users to be the right one first, then moved on to how advertising would work. The company declined to share reel usage figures.

Ads will be full screen and vertical, appearing between individual posts. They will last up to 30 seconds and will loop.

“When you enter Reels, you will find the type of creators that entertain you. And also go and be in a fun mode, which is a little different than how you approach the feed on Instagram, or on Stories, “Osofsky told CNBC in an interview this week. “I think brands are getting quite sophisticated in the way they use new short-form video formats, including reels, to tell their own stories. And then advertising is a natural opportunity for brands to reach the consumers they want to reach ”.

Instagram’s leadership has been clear about TikTok’s role in popularizing the short-form video format. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri told CNBC in November that TikTok “takes all the credit for pioneering the space” and said Instagram was in a “catch-up phase” in that space. Google’s YouTube has followed suit with its own short-form video feature called Shorts.

When it comes to usage, TikTok is increasingly challenging in the US An eMarketer report released this month says that adult TikTok users will spend more time on TikTok than adult Facebook users on Facebook this year. The report also said that TikTok will have more Generation Z users than Instagram this year.

But when it comes to advertising, Instagram’s parent company Facebook is still a monster by comparison. Facebook is expected to control nearly a quarter of digital advertising spending globally by 2021, according to eMarketer.

Osofsky said he believes Reels is well positioned as an advertising choice.

“The breadth of the audience you can reach and the ability to target your ads to reach the right people at the right time and in the right format, I think it’s a real opportunity on Instagram,” Osofsky said.

But a key in that specific piece could be Apple’s latest changes that make it easier for users to block advertisers from tracking them. Facebook has been frank about the changes, but Osofsky wouldn’t say what kind of impact the company is seeing so far with its ad testing for Reels.

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