It looks as if Instagram users love themselves some brand ads: According to Ad Age, in the second quarter of 2014 Instagram brand posts saw more than double the amount of interactions of Facebook brand posts. Users liked, commented, and shared companies’ content on Instagram an average of 6,932 times per post, compared to Facebook’s 2,396 actions per post.
Ad Age pulled the numbers from Shareablee, a social media analytics firm, which defines “brand posts” as newsfeed posts made by brands, both promoted and otherwise. It doesn’t count sidebar ads.
The fact that the app is seeing such high engagement – beating out its older brother – bodes well for Facebook when it decides to try making money off its $1 billion acquisition. At the moment, Instagram has only tested ads with a small round of Fortune 500 corporations like Taco Bell and Hollister. Mark Zuckerberg has shown no interest in expanding that test run any time soon, preferring to take the Pinterest approach of slow and steady with ad rollout. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom reportedly vets each and every ad that appears on Instagram.
It’s possible that Facebook is saving scaling Instagram ads for a rainy day, when growth on the Facebook platform has slowed and the company isn’t raking in the revenue as easily as it has recently. Instagram ad revenue has potential, given that the big brands who’ve tried promoted posts say users are remembering and engaging with them.
The recently released like, share, and comment numbers support that. Early signs show that just as with Pinterest, people are more interested in ads when they appear in a visual feed. Pinterest, which rolled out ads to the masses in May, reportedly makes $30 off 1,000 impressions. That’s compared to the $1 CPM that Facebook reportedly makes.
Aside from just user engagement with brands, the numbers out of Shareablee show that brands themselves are spending a lot of time on Instagram, despite the fact that its audience is smaller than Facebook’s. In the second quarter of 2014, brands posted 493,000 times, up 49 percent from the same time last year. By contrast, brands posted on Facebook 2.5 million times, up 22 percent from last year.
At the same time, Instagram is starting to develop its product. As The Verge noted, Instagram’s most recent changes — suggesting users to follow, expanding the “Explore” tab for finding new users and building recommendation algorithms based on popular hashtags – make it look even more like Twitter.
Those subtle shifts that suggest the app is trying to grow up and expand its offerings, becoming a full-fledged company instead of just a feature. Just in time for the advertising money to pour in.