Brands, take notice – sponsored content on the emerging platform is here to stay. The photo and video sharing application initially broke the news to their international audience in late 2013 and brands have been anxiously waiting to see how the latest ad network would perform. Now, a year later, has opened up their platform to more brands and will increase the number of ads being rolled out in the upcoming months.

But why has the rollout taken so long? Instagram notes that making money is not their initial goal – gaining data is. This unique perspective is rooted in how differently Instagram measures success, which values reach and brand awareness over the traditional engagement model. These insights will take time to evaluate. But above all, Instagram understands that creating an ad platform that maximizes the user experience will ease the transition; an approach that will benefit both users and brands.

Despite some initial user backlash, the new platform does tout several examples of success. A perfect example is Levi’s, who had 155,000 followers on Instagram in December when they began actively pushing out ads. After a nine-day period, Levi’s was able to reach an audience of 7.4 million and has seen an increase of around 90% in its follower count since, now accounting for over 295,000. Taco Bell has experienced similar success. Taco Bell noticed a 400 percent higher rate on its promotions when using Instagram advertisements and during the one month ad campaign, the fast food chain’s number of followers increased by 45 percent.

Thus far, only a handful of brands have been able to take advantage of the ad platform. But due to these initial results, the secret is out and brands are increasingly looking to be introduced; however the universal launch date is unknown but rest assured that Instagram will continue to collect data from this test period to maximize the user experience. Until then, brands need to evaluate what their approach would be when the time comes understanding the platform is about imagery and creativity over identify. More so than on Facebook and Twitter, creating channel specific messaging will be crucial and repurposing content for Instagram should be avoided. The brands that embrace that mentality and avoid using the platform as another channel for highlighting key features and brand messages will benefit the most.

Photo Credit: State of Digital