Instagram ads and influencers + search vs social + LMTD likes

Welcome to The Watercooler, issue 53.

LMTD has picked out some of the most interesting digital and social media stories making waves around the web this week, to keep you up-to-date with developments in the world’s most exciting and fastest-growing industry. Something else you’d like to see?

Let us know at

Ads or influencers?


In the week where Instagram ads are opened to the masses, we ask the important question: given how hostile the photo sharing app’s user base has been to the whole idea, are ads a better option than the more traditional ‘influencer marketing’ approach?

Turns out it’s all about what your brand wants to achieve. Are you raising brand awareness, or courting engagement? Are you growing followers or driving customers to a point of sale?

The first Instagram ad from designer Michael Kors received four times the usual number of likes than non-promoted posts, and reached a global audience of 6.15 million. Following the ad, the company attracted 33,000 new followers — 16 times more than usual. But, it’s important to note, sentiment wasn’t overwhelmingly positive.

As they often make clear, Instagram users don’t like the inevitable intrusion of advertising into their platform. Influencer marketing lends a sense of authenticity that paid ads don’t have; while users are well aware celebrities are paid to wear certain products, it’s still possible they mean what they say. And, unsurprisingly for a image-focused app, presentation is everything.

So to your first decision: quantifiable ROI, or greater awareness and positive sentiment?

On a purely practical note: Instagram ads are expensive. Various prohibitively large figures have been bandied around — including as much as $1 million a month. If these figures are anywhere near accurate, this easily prices small businesses out of the ad game (Instagram has been tight-lipped about exact costs, perhaps for this very reason). Influencers, however, needn’t be quite so bad for the wallet. They are often paid, but can also be brought on board with free merchandise and PR opportunities.

Maintaining a relevant stable of influencers is, however, considerably trickier than running an ad campaign. With influencer marketing, you’re not simply targeting your preferred audience; you’re relying on the idea that your chosen influencer can reach that audience for you. Good research and good faith are likely needed in equal measure, which could make your company bean-counters a little nervous.

So your second decision: a larger financial outlay for greater control, or a less expensive option and the chance your efforts might not yield great results?

Likely the answer is somewhere in between, but until Instagram becomes a little more transparent about its advertising plans — and the big brands have tested the water — it’s not worth diving straight in just yet.

Search vs social: who wins?


So you’ve got an advertising budget…how are you planning to use it? If you’ve found yourself in the search vs. social debate, some recent insights from marketing software company Kenshoo may help settle it.

Kenshoo has evaluated 550 billion impressions, 9.5 billion clicks and $5.5 billion in spend from Q2 2015, with some pretty interesting results for marketers (which they were nice enough to put into this infographic).

Our top takeaways include:

– Mobile-targeted ad spend increased 71% year-on-yearall the signs have been pointing to mobile’s coming dominance in the online world, so it’s obvious that advertisers would follow.

– Social advertising’s click-through rate has increased 535% year-on-year, compared to just a 4% for paid search: it’s no secret that social users are already on the mobile bandwagon. While this number seems almost too large to be accurate, it does follow that more people using social media means more opportunity for a click-through.

– Paid search spend increased 10% year-on-year, while social increased 114%: paid search isn’t dead. But it’s not feeling terribly well.

We know where we’d put our money. Where will you put yours?

LMTD likes


Cloud storage is pretty revolutionary, but if you’re like LMTD Editor Iain McDonald, you’re forever putting things in a place so safe you can’t ever find them again. Enter Unclouded.

Without Unclouded, I’m not sure I would ever find anything I’ve stored online. The app helps clean out and organise your cloud and device storage, bringing services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and the possibly-soon-to-be-defunct Mega together in one place — saving you from search them all for those missing passport photos or incredibly important cat videos.

Best of all — it’s free! My favourite price…


Alphabet is born

Periscope users watch 40 years of video per day

Twitter removes DM character limit

How to be more influential online

Facebook know how you laugh


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