This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Why some of the most sophisticated advertising in on Instagram

Instagram doesn't allow advertising, or hyperlinks. There are no popup ads, no "sponsored links", nothing that most people would associate with advertising. And that's why the most sophisticated advertising on the web is now on Instagram.

If you haven't noticed by now, people HATE ads on the web. Most people find them intrusive and annoying. Even though they don't "pop up" as much as they used to, many still do. They get in front of what you're trying to read, they glide across the page. They wiggle around trying to get your attention when you're reading an article. They're awful. And because of that, a lot of people block them, and the click rate is so low that advertisers are getting discouraged.

So, one of the best places to get away from all of that noise is Instagram. If you're not familiar with Instagram, it's simply a way for people to share simple photos. It's a square format, the kind that shows up the best on a phone, and it's all about the pictures. You can add a caption, and hashtags to allow people to find you, but the main focus is on the image. And that's why some of the most sophisticated advertising is going on there.

I like to compare it to "billboard advertising". You only get a few seconds to show your message, so it has to be simple and to the point. An image, a headline, and a call to action. This is how you do it:

Create a compelling image. No, not a stock photo, those won't get anyone's attention. Then write a short "billboard style" headline. This is quite an art form, and most people don't realize how difficult it is to do. It's not about abbreviating, because all that does is make people go "huh?", but it's all about being brief, and getting to the point. And the call to action is either a website, a physical location where the product or service can be obtained, or a telephone number. For it to be an effective ad, it must have all three things. If it's just a picture, it's just a picture. If it's a picture with a headline, that's nice, but it won't drive traffic to your product or service. It needs all three, and it must be something that people can glance at quickly while driving by.

The next time you're on Instagram, follow something that is an interest of yours. I follow pictures of dachshunds pages. The formula is this - every dozen images or so, there's an ad, There are pictures of dachshund, videos of dachshunds, pictures of people walking dachshunds, cartoons of dachshunds, and then there's the ad for merchandise, or clothing, or anything. It's just another Instagram post, and you can skip over it in seconds. But in those seconds you've been exposed to it, just like a billboard, and at some point, unlike billboard advertising, you can pause, look more carefully, and maybe order that sweatshirt that says "I like dachshunds" or the special treats made specially for dachshunds.

Most people aren't even aware of these ads. But look closely next time - if there's a call to action, a telephone number to call, an address, or a web address, it's an ad. And since you can't do a hyperlink on Instagram, the web address has to be short enough for people to remember it, and type it into their browser themselves. And people do that, with websites like . People don't like links, and are wising up to the fact that a lot of times clicking on a link will either send them to some crazy place, or possibly put a virus on their computer. If they want to go somewhere, they want to go there themselves.