As we all know, people have less time these days to interact, with each other, their families, and their networks. And where words once ruled, now pictures do. It’s easy to see why too. Pictures are quick to make, and easy to share, and of course they often say much more than a tweet or a Facebook update can in a shorter space of time. We all know that a picture speaks a thousand words, and in our times they say a lot more than 140 characters, at least as far as Instagram’s 300 million active monthly users are concerned.

Instagram gives us the visual snacking content we all love these days, in a simple and elegant interface. It has made pop stars out if some its users, many of whom can now be considered photographers. A lot of these guys never picked a camera up before they got their first iPhone, and now they’re making rich, slick and beautiful content that enthralls the eyes of millions of people around the world, and increasingly, brands and their devotees too. No wonder then, that engagement rates on Instagram dwarf all other players of a similar size, 4.21% to Twitter’s 0.03% if you’d like to know!

New developments are happening all the time on the Instagram ad programme. A few months ago, ‘carousel’ ads were launched, a strip of 4 pictures that allowed a brand to tell a story. Then a wider array of calls to action were made available (Shop Now, Install Now, Sign Up, Learn More) along with a native browser function that enables users to not have to leave the app after tapping on an ad. Recently Instagram announced that brands can now run 30 second video ads if they want to. Another recent update allows users to post portrait and landscape pictures natively in the app for the first time, rather than the square format that Instagram has exclusively used until now.

In the biggest commercial move yet, Ads will very soon be much more accessible on Instagram, brands will shortly be able to fully unlock the door to a prime audience, with highly targeted media available on an on demand basis. Compare this to a few months ago, when the minimum media spend was £50k, and only the big boys could play. Along with this move, Instagram has also just opened its advertising doors to over 30 new countries around the world, including Mexico, India and biggest of all, South Korea.

Instagram is now all grown up as a brand communication tool, it’s become the thing that Facebook wanted it to be when it paid $1bn for the app 3 years ago. Its time is now.

Author:  Matt at Prescription, London