Instagram ads can now link to brands’ Messenger accounts, bots

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Facebook continues to find ways for its three major brands — Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — to complement one another. In the latest example, brands can now buy ads from Facebook to run on Facebook’s photo-and-video sharing app that link to a marketer’s account in Facebook’s messaging app.

The extension of Messenger-linked ads to Instagram follows their rollout to Facebook’s news feed last year and further rounds out the relationship among its properties. The move also builds on Instagram’s and Messenger’s pushes to each become more of a commercial conduit for businesses following last year’s introduction of Page-like business profiles on Instagram and commerce-enabled chatbots on Messenger.

As with Facebook, Instagram is for brands to attract an audience and establish a relationship with the people in that audience, and Messenger is trying to become the place where marketers can convert those audience members into customers and manage their relationships with those customers.

For example, some marketers are looking at Messenger as a new alternative to email marketing. Once a brand starts a conversation with someone on Messenger, they can continue that conversation over time, sending a person notifications and sponsored messages on Messenger in place of promotional emails that may get lost in their inbox. And while a person who clicks an ad to visit an advertiser’s site but doesn’t buy anything typically makes a brand start from scratch to win them back, a person who clicks an ad to open a conversation in Messenger but doesn’t click through to the advertiser’s site can at least still be reached directly in Messenger.

Messenger can also help to bridge the gap between a brand trying to pique people’s interest in a product on Instagram or Facebook and getting them to buy the product on the brand’s own site. Messenger-linked ads can be attached to photo, video or carousel ads, and the links can use Messenger’s referral codes to open up a specific line of conversation rather than the generic “get to know you” flow. For example, a video could showcase a type of exercise equipment and link to a Messenger thread that details how to use the equipment, offers example exercises or lets people order the product through Messenger.

Advertisers could already include links to their Messenger accounts in ads on Instagram, but there are some differences with the official option that Facebook began rolling out on Wednesday. In the workaround version, clicking on the ad would open Messenger’s site within Instagram’s in-app browser, whereas the official version uses deep-linking to open Messenger’s mobile app (if a person has it installed on their phone). And advertisers buying the ads using Facebook’s self-serve Ad Manager will be able to see Messenger-specific measurements like the number of messages, new conversations and blocks that an ad triggered.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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