Digital Dash: Instagram tests collection ads & more

1. Live test: shoppable collection ads on Instagram
2. Amazon follows Pinterest’s lead, launches its own take on QR codes
3. Pinterest tells brands when to Pin about big annual events
4. Snap Inc’s Q4 results smash predictions and excite investors
5. More Instagram ‘regram’ rumours do the rounds, but this time they’re true (mostly)


1. Live test: shoppable collection ads on Instagram
Retail brands, take note: Facebook’s shoppable collection ads are winging their way over to Instagram.

Currently being tested with a limited number of advertisers (but with plans to open up to everyone within the next few months), the collection format combines a video spotlight with a carousel showcase of individual featured products.

When tapped, users are directed to a full-screen product catalogue experience (canvas ad) where they can browse more items and click to buy from the retailer’s website.


As pointed out by Marketing Land, Instagram’s version of collection ads differ from Facebook’s in two ways:
• Product catalogue doesn’t prioritise the style that was tapped
• Main product showcase has a limit of 3 photos (rather than 4)

After a long wait for Instagram to get with the ecommerce programme, things have really been looking up over the past year or so. Brands can now link directly to their websites via Stories and all other ad units, including the new carousel Story ads (also currently being tested).

A while back, Instagram was testing a feature that let business pages tag products within an organic post – this would be a huge step forward if it rolls out. Sadly we don’t have it yet.

The arrival of collection ads is another push towards Instagram becoming a directly attributable sales driver for retailers.


2. Amazon follows Pinterest’s lead, launches its own take on QR codes
Remember last month’s big Pinterest news – the release of quick-access Pincodes designed to get offline shoppers back on the app? Here’s a quick refresh on that.

Pincodes are great. All users have to do is scan what is essentially a pretty QR code using their in-app camera, to reveal a specific Pinterest board.

The key here is the ‘in-app’ part – one of the major reasons QR codes didn’t take off like they could have is because you had to download a separate scanner app to read them. And with millions of those around, people had no idea which one to download even if they were willing to.

QR codes have moved on a lot since then, with companies like Apple integrating QR code readers into their smartphone cameras, but they still can’t compete with the branded equivalent.

And now Amazon has one of its very own: Smilecodes.

Just like Pincodes, Smilecodes can be placed in the physical world (on posters, in-store displays etc.) so people can instantly shop related items via the official Amazon app.

With Amazon’s incredibly broad (and ever expanding) product range, the possibilities with this are huge.


Photo cred: TechCrunch

The codes are set to debut in the US this month, in magazines including Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. But we bet it won’t be long before you see them popping up everywhere.


3. Pinterest tells brands when to Pin about big annual events, and FYI, Black Friday hype starts in June
Pinterest is the home of gift hunting, and this week, also the home of gift giving.

The discovery app has created a free guide – named Possibilities Planner – to help businesses know when to post about major calendar occasions. The insights are based on when Pinners start saving Pins for each moment.

To the untrained ear, this may seem a little unnecessary. Let’s say you’re planning a big Halloween promotion, you’ll probably think early October is a good time to catch shoppers when interest is high.

But it’s never quite that simple. Buying cycles are always much lengthier than expected, and nowhere is this truer than Pinterest, where the world’s most organised and inspiration-hungry gather to share and find ideas.

So, going back to your Halloween promotion. If you begin posting or pinning in early October, you’ll have missed a good two months of Halloween hype – which, as you can see from the below chart, actually begins in late July/early August.

Pinterest_possibilities planner 1

There’s tons of other really useful information in the guide too, including a breakdown of pinning and search activity per occasion. It’s definitely worth a read and you can download it here.

Pinterest_possibilities planner 2

This is all very clever from Pinterest. Providing businesses with really useful information while at the same time reinforcing just how badly they’d be missing out by not utilising the platform is a powerful combination.


4. Snap Inc’s Q4 results smash predictions and excite investors
Thought Snapchat was on its way out? Thought wrong.

Despite being the subject of non-stop copycatting from, well, just about every other social media company, Snap Inc has defied expectations with a storming Q4 quarterly earning report.

Instead of a projected $252.8 million in earnings, the company came through with $285.7 million (74% increase from 2016).

It was also revealed that Snapchat now has 187 million daily active users (DAUs) – an 18% year over year increase.

Now, compared to Facebook’s 1.4 billion DAUs, that might sound relatively low. But Snapchat has spent the majority of the year battling valiantly to retain some kind of USP in a market where any cool new feature is immediately cloned.

Among the factors contributing to Snapchat’s growth are a commitment to innovation (e.g. Snap Maps); a recent dramatic redesign (making the app much more user friendly for older demographics); success on Android; and – probably most significantly – the advancement of its self-serve ad platform and products.

There’s more in the pipeline too. Snapchat has just announced the launch of Snap Store – a new section where users can buy Snapchat-related merchandise. This is great news for anyone bursting to get their hands on a $20 Dancing Hot Dog Plushie, but even better news for brands – it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a new ecommerce opportunity.


Photo cred: TechCrunch


5. More Instagram ‘regram’ rumours do the rounds, but this time they’re true (mostly)
We’ve lost track of the amount of times we’ve heard that Instagram is set to launch an official feature similar to Twitter’s retweet or Facebook’s share, where a user can legitimately repost someone else’s content to their own page.

But lo and behold, a new test has been spotted by eagle-eyed users that lets you add someone else’s post to your story.

Okay, so it’s not called ‘regram’ and the content won’t appear on your profile page – but it’s the nearest we’ve come to a tool that allows you to repurpose another user’s post on Instagram.

And not only can you include the post in your story but you can also move, resize, rotate and reformat the reposts, as spotted by Twitter user Zachary Shakked.

There are two other features that make the new option even better. One is that you can choose to opt in or out of allowing people to add your post to their stories:


The second is that your username will always appear alongside your post, which should greatly reduce blatant content thievery.