‘An important part of our digital universe’: Smirnoff is spending more on Instagram Stories ads
Stories are the new news feed for Smirnoff. More of the vodka advertiser’s social media budget is going to Instagram as a result of the vertical video format.
Smirnoff has made the format an always-on part of its media plan in the U.S. just eight months after its first test. The advertiser sees a clear delineation between stories — the Snapchat-style format that brands and publishers use to post vertical videos that disappear in 24 hours — and the feed. Stories are about capturing a moment, whereas people are more careful about curating their feed.
Tests started with organic Stories on Smirnoff’s account, but now money is being spent on video ads to drive views and reach. Influencers are also on Smirnoff’s payroll for content on Instagram Stories. Six seconds appears to be a good length for online videos on Instagram Stories so far, said Jay Sethi, vp of Smirnoff, but the advertiser is experimenting with posts that last up to 15 seconds in its latest campaign, which features “Cheers” actor Ted Danson.
Relative to Facebook news-feed placements, Instagram Stories are actually cheaper in many cases due to less competition for ads, said two agency executives interviewed for this article. And while the reach of ads in Instagram’s Stories isn’t as large as ads in Facebook’s news feed, Smirnoff finds Instagram is where younger audiences are more likely to watch ads with the sound on, said Sethi.
“We’re at the point where Instagram Stories isn’t a test for us anymore,” said Sethi. “It’s growing at a rate that’s already made it an important part of our digital universe, and we’re going to keep trying different ways to engage users with the format.”
Smirnoff is testing whether Stories in Instagram can hit brand and performance targets as the volume of content using the format means the chances of people skipping them is likely to increase. Ad spend on Instagram grew 177 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, per Merkle. The challenge of cutting through all those advertisers was recently highlighted by Simon Lejeune, the head of acquisition at flight-booking app Hopper.
In January, the cost per thousand impressions for an Instagram Stories ad was $4.62, said Lejeune, while the interaction rate was 1 percent. For the 30 days to Aug. 16, the CPM for Instagram Stories was $5.53, while the interaction rate was 0.47 percent. The story here is that when a new placement shows up, people interact with ads more because it’s new and there’s less of a choice. As feeds and stories fill up with ads, people become less reactive to them.
That could become a problem for Smirnoff later down the line if Instagram isn’t able to find enough highly engaged users. The advertiser is fine with the influx of advertisers on the platform for now, said Sethi, as the ROI it’s getting makes the cost of planning and buying the ads worthwhile.
“We see high engagement especially through the ‘ask me questions’ feature, and in responses to live events,” said Leah Forsyth, managing director at independent creative agency HarrimanSteel. “With this in mind, for our latest Nike campaign for retailer Intersport, we shifted the focus to stories. Although the campaign has just begun, we’re already seeing great results.”
Smirnoff sees the Stories format as a brand-building channel. Behind-the-scenes footage from photo shoots and influencer events that wouldn’t usually have made it into a news-feed ad make up a sizeable amount of Smirnoff’s ads on Stories along with GIFs.
“You’re not just getting the ad, which isn’t really what the consumer wants to see in this space; you’re getting something cool that’s happening in the creation of that ad,” said Sethi. “We’ve changed the makeup of our content production team to consist of people who are able to make great creative on the fly but also take the time to experiment with new channels and formats.”
Instagram has undoubtedly benefited from Diageo’s ban on advertising on the originator of the vertical video format’s Snapchat due to concerns over inadvertently targeting the app’s youngest users. Diageo has yet to restart its spending on the platform since a Snapchat campaign it ran last summer was banned in January.
SXM Media’s Lizzie Widhelm on the challenges advertisers face with podcast ad buying
Lizzie Widhelm, svp of ad innovation and B2B marketing at SXM Media, discusses announcer versus host-read ads in podcasts, measurement challenges and audience targeting -- and where she sees the industry going in 2022.
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research: Alternate identifiers now figure in advertising deals for two thirds of publishers
Regardless of size, publishers are taking a careful approach to incorporating alternate identifiers into their businesses.
TikTok taps BuzzFeed to produce the first sponsored weekly live shows on the platform
BuzzFeed and TikTok will experiment with layering branded content into Live episodes on the platform, as well as how to establish predictable viewership for livestream videos.
SponsoredHow advertisers are shifting mindsets to succeed amid iOS 15 and other identity challenges
On top of the impending cookie deprecation, Apple’s recent iOS 15 changes are causing concern for many advertisers by affecting pixels, IP addresses and email addresses. While these upcoming changes may be concerning for many, shifting mindsets and getting away from a binary way of thinking with solutions being 100% contextual or 100% universal IDs […]
How 2021 taught Gallery Media to quickly adapt its TikTok playbook
Running both editorial and branded TikTok channels has given Gallery Media a clearer understanding of what audiences are willing to watch and engage with on the social media platform.
Here’s why Outbrain is buying Video Intelligence for $55 million
Outbrain and Taboola are using M&A to prove differentiation as public companies.