Instagram tests Multi-Advertiser ads, cramming four ads into one screen

Instagram is piloting a new ad layout that crams four sponsored posts into one screen.

It’s the platform’s latest take on Multi-Advertiser ads, which groups together related sponsored posts from different businesses and serves them to people who have recently shown an interest in related products or services.

The new layout is being displayed between Reels. Advertisers can disable this feature by opting out in Settings.

Why we care. Bombarding Instagram users with so many ads at once may keep CPMs low. However, it could also potentially annoy users, making it harder for brands to capture consumers’ attention, which will negatively impact CTR and ROI.

Not all impressions are equal. While brands may initially see some success with this new ad format, the novelty will wear off and users will eventually opt to skip the content, said Barry Hott, Growth Marketing Consultant and Advisor:

  • “Meta’s getting greedy here and trying to squeeze more ad impressions out of their users, particularly on Reels. Great reminder of how all impressions are not equal. I would consider this impression much lower value than a full Reels or Feed ad placement, but it can be used to serve cheap CPMs, more like a right column placement.
  • “Lower CPMs on an optimized platform with multiple varied placements are not better for you. When you see lower CPMs, don’t celebrate it, question it.
  • “If your attribution setting includes 1-day view, this placement can be used by the system to get more cheap (non-incremental) 1-day view conversions.
  • “My bet is this placement will work well for a couple of months before the novelty wears off and users catch on that this interface is solely for them to be served ads and they’ll learn to subconsciously block and skip them.”

The risk of annoying users. Katharine Mckee, digital commerce consultant, raised her concerns over the ad product interrupting the user experience:

  • “I would assume that some of this is driven by customer interest. The example may be throwing it off, but all of those (ads in the example) are cheesy/spammy and highly likely to be skipped.
  • “It may make sense from a UX perspective to put the seemingly identical things together in one skippable bomb rather than irritating users.
  • “Put all the skippable rubbish into one easy-to-ignore slot. I cannot wait to see the ugly reel!”

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What Instagram is saying. Instagram announced its multi-advertiser format via an announcement in its Help Center:

  • “Multi-advertiser ads help people discover and compare products from multiple businesses. This ad unit, available for selected placements on Facebook and Instagram, gives advertisers the opportunity to be discovered by people who have recently shown an interest in related products or businesses.”
  • “In the multi-advertiser ad unit, personalized ads from different businesses are shown in a carousel format beneath an ad that a shopper has recently engaged with. An ad for a wedding dress might appear beside another brand’s ad for a wedding cake, for example.”
  • “The advertiser decides where the action button within their multi-advertiser ad takes people. At the end of the carousel, an action button links to a feed of ads, where shoppers can explore more related products or services (currently only available on Instagram).”
  • “This feature is being gradually introduced and may not be available to you yet.”

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About the author

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.

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