Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago.
Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
One in five stories generates a direct message from viewers, and 70 percent of Instagram users currently follow a business, according to the company.
Instagram had 600 million users as of last month, with 100 million of them having joined in the previous six months. The network launched in 2010.
Instagram plans to test its new Story tools with more than 30 clients, including such brand names as Capitol One, Maybelline New York, Buick, Netflix, Qantas and Yoox.
Airbnb is using Instagram Stories to market its Trips on Airbnb product launch, including 15-second video ads highlighting its ability to connect travelers to local experts who share similar interests.
Airbnb is targeting a broad spectrum of men and women aged 25-44 in the U.S., and it will use information obtained from this effort to target future campaigns, according to Instagram.
Instagram's tools will help build awareness around the recently launched Airbnb Experiences, noted Eric Toda, global head of social marketing and content at Airbnb.
Instagram has taken a page straight out of the Snapchat playbook, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
Snapchat successfully launched its own Stories platform with a component called "SnapAds."
"People like and are attracted to narratives or stories that have a point, tell a tale or offer conclusions," King told the E-Commerce Times.
Another key engagement point is the tight format: Ads can employ photo stills that run up to 5 seconds or video that runs 15 seconds. Because these ads are tighter than television ads, which typically run at least 30 seconds, they force advertisers to make their selling points much faster.
"People who use Instagram, and especially people who use the Stories feature, are looking for an instant connection," noted Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
"Ads embedded in Stories will leverage that desire for instant access," he told the E-Commerce Times.
Instagram last fall took other steps to boost user engagement, including the introduction of Boomerang, which allows users to take a series of instant photos and make a mini video out of them.
It also unveiled Mentions, which lets users mention other users in their posts, and See More Links, which allows verified users to add additional links to related stories.
It launched live video on Instagram Stories right before the Thanksgiving Day holiday.