Instagram will allow people to post clickable links in their posts, sending users away from its collection of sepia-tinted pictures for the first time. But the feature will be limited to advertisers, so that users can click to learn more about companies.
Previously, advertisers could only pay to have their pictures promoted into users’ feeds, pushing them to users whether or not they followed their accounts. But the clickable URLs are part of a broader push by Instagram to allow advertisers to let Instagram users interact with their paid-for posts more.
The company said the new features were a response to feedback from the “Instagram community” as well as from advertisers themselves.
The new ad format is known as “carousel ads” — allowing users to scroll left and right on a picture to see more. If users want to click through after seeing one of those ads, they can choose a read more link to be taken through to a page explaining the business or service being advertised.
The scrollable ads could allow companies to “bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phone”, Instagram says. It used the example of a fashion company allowing users to swipe through and see the different pieces in a look, or a car company showing pictures of individual features in one product.
Users will still be able to scroll past the ads, as before, and if they don’t click on the carousel ads they will look almost identical to a normal post.
The carousels will be rolling out to users “on a limited basis”, Instagram said. “In the coming weeks, you may see carousel ads and might notice variations of the format as we learn what people are most interested in and what performs best,” the company wrote in a blogpost announcing the news.