Digital MarketingIndustry DevelopmentsInstagram introduces ads to the “Explore” feed

Instagram introduces ads to the “Explore” feed

Instagram's Explore feature -- which is used by 50% of users each month -- will now include ads, giving brands a new way to reach its audience of nearly 60 million people who use Instagram to discover new products.

Instagram’s Explore grid lets users discover new accounts in categories they’re interested in. Explore is used by over 50% of accounts each month and, per Instagram’s announcement on Wednesday, will now include ads. The ads will appear in the Explore feed (as opposed to the grid), after a user clicks on an image or video from the Explore section.

With plans to roll out over the next few months, Explore ads will help Instagram users discover new brands by showing ads in one of the most widely viewed features of the app. This new ad offering gives advertisers an additional channel to reach new audiences.

How it works

Explore ads aren’t visible on the main Explore grid, but will appear within the feed after a user taps on a video or image from Explore.

Instagram Explore Grid—Image Source: Instagram


Explore Feed Ad—Image Source: Instagram

There are more than 25 million businesses on Instagram and more than 80% of people follow a brand, so this new ad type is a promising addition to Instagram’s already robust portfolio of ad options.

About the Explore grid

The Explore grid is customized to a user’s interests (my grid is filled with birds and wildlife; my daughter’s is mostly artwork and makeup).

Instagram recently updated the design of Explore by adding a new navigation to the Explore page. The nav bar includes shortcuts to categories such as Food, Art, and Travel as well as links to IGTV and Shop. A selection of category options appears at the top of the Explore page, above the image and video grid, as shown in the below screenshot.

Image Source: Instagram

Instagram has dubbed the Explore feed their “discovery destination” with millions of users accessing this screen each day.

The updated Explore page update includes integration with IGTV and Shopping. IGTV, launched last June, enables creators to post vertical, longform video of up to an hour which is meant to be viewed on phones. Users can access IGTV in a standalone app or the standard Instagram app. Tapping IGTV in the newly updated Explore page takes the user to a feed dedicated to IGTV video (this is where the new ads will appear).

Instagram Shop in Explore

More than 60% of users—over 60 million people—discover new products on Instagram, so the addition of the Shop link in the Explore feed has a lot of potential for retail advertisers.  Tapping on the Shop link brings the user to a page which enables them to filter products by type (Beauty, Clothing, Home, etc.)

Image Source: Instagram

When will Explore ads be available to advertisers?

The announcement about Explore ads was posted to Instagram’s blog on June 26, and states that they will be rolling out these ads “slowly and thoughtfully” in the coming months. As with all Instagram ads, advertisers will be able to create, launch and manage ads via Facebook’s Ad Manager.


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