Industry Insights
How agency Bamboo makes Advertising on Instagram look easy


Danny Sauter



For those of us that aren’t familiar with Bamboo, please tell us a little more about your agency.

We’re a mobile advertising agency that uses an agile methodology to drive consistent improvements for clients on paid channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Dropbox, Turo, Coursera, HotelTonight, Shyp and more have trusted us with many millions in mobile advertising budget.

Our mission is to create more transparency, trust, and ultimately, revenue, for our clients within a mobile advertising ecosystem that is increasingly fragmented, opaque, and expanding. By doing this, we believe we can become the best mobile ad agency in the world.


What do you think is the #1 misconception about advertising on Instagram?

There’s still a surprisingly large number of people who don’t realize Instagram is now open to all advertisers.

After seeing Instagram go through so many rounds of testing with only big brands, I certainly understand this. But – it’s real this time! Instagram is here, and it now it finally wants you as an advertiser.


Why is it important for brands to not only promote themselves organically on Instagram, but to also to amplify their content with paid ads?

Though it’s the same channel, the two methods help you achieve different things.

If your goal is to find new prospects with greater predictability and scale, then paid campaigns on Instagram are the way to go.

If your goal is to build your brand with existing customers and very warm prospects, then organic campaigns are the way to go.

Of course, there’s a place for each and they typically act to make one another stronger. Smart teams and agencies are making sure that organic and paid teams talk and share insights often. For example, starting your paid campaigns with creative styles which resonate well to organic audiences can often give you a head start. And, the volume of testing and audience discovery on paid campaigns can only help to sharpen organic’s understanding of their customers.


Are there any specific categories/verticals of brands that work well on Instagram, and if so, what are some typical KPIs they use to measure success? 

The honest truth is that we haven’t yet found a vertical where we can definitively say Instagram does not work. There may be one eventually, but we’ve already found success in everything from fashion to travel apps to small business tools.

The early numbers on success with Instagram are just staggering. From better initial acquisition costs to higher retention numbers, the Instagram-acquisition quality is extremely well rounded right now. Here are some specifics that should make you want to get started immediately:


What is the #1 reason why an advertiser needs to get started with Instagram advertising today?

Quite simply, the clock is ticking.

Competition will only increase, the stakes to stand out will only rise, and prices will keep moving up. We’ve seen this same cycle on Facebook in the past few years, and the same will be true for Instagram.

The sharpest advertisers are already on Instagram and have a head start as a result. The insights they are amassing right now will let them at least partially offset increased competition and prices. The window to get this head start is certainly closing – Nanigans recently shared that over 30% of their advertisers are on Instagram now, and the adoption curve shows no signs of slowing.


What would you say is the benefit of using a managed services Facebook/Instagram agency, as compared to to using their self-service tool?

We’re running Instagram campaigns for around a dozen clients, so we’ve been able to generate significant insights in a short amount of time. Learning the same amount of information while running a siloed, in-house operation could take years. While we never share information that could compromise or be in competition between clients, we do share broad best practices and benchmarks. These go a long way in generating new ideas for what to try next and getting a sense of how well you really are doing.

Beyond this rapid pace of learning, we bring the same relentless way of operating campaigns to Instagram as we do to any other channel. Specifically, we’re iterating through multiple new creative concepts and audience segments each week to drive improvements. Meanwhile, we’re in constant communication with clients to understand shifting priorities and ensure total transparency into the library of insights we’re generating about their customers.


What types of targeting options do you have on Instagram – how granular can you really get?

Right now, there are no Instagram specific targeting options. Instead, you simply use the existing suite of Facebook targeting options and rely on Instagram to match up with them.

This is smart – advertisers now have one less thing to try and figure out on Instagram as they start. Targeting is familiar, and most times we’ve seen that the best audiences on Facebook match up closely to the best audiences on Instagram.

Still, we’re eager to see some Instagram specific targeting. The community and behavior there are unique enough that some really interesting audiences could be built out. For example, hashtags are more often used on Instagram than on Facebook, and could prove to be good identifiers of what people are interested in. Instagram could also be a good place to target followers of smaller pages, something Facebook doesn’t allow and is losing out to Twitter on.


In your experience, does Instagram work for driving app downloads? If that’s the case, which app genres does it work for and what are some best practices?


The majority of the campaigns we run on Instagram are app install ads. We’re frequently seeing click-to-install numbers (the % of people who click an ad and also install once they get to the app store) higher than on Facebook. This shows a willingness, and frankly, desire, from Instagram users to download apps.


What are some of the biggest challenges of advertising on Instagram?

The biggest challenge we’re seeing is around creative.

Some teams are averse to creative experimentation outside of the usual Instagram-organic style. They’re nervous to put out an ad image that doesn’t look exactly like the beautiful imagery they see in Instagram on their own feeds. It’s an admirable concern, but we’re always pushing on the side of performance.

We think we’ve found a really nice middle ground in styles that blend organic and direct response elements. For example: a beautiful base image that fits into Instagram’s visual appeal, but then a subtle call to action (be it an Install Now button, a special offer, etc.) that move people to action.


I think a common perception is that Instagram ads only work for Retailers, eCommerce companies, and fashion brands. What do you think are some counterintuitive verticals that actually perform well on the Instagram ads platform?

We continue to see this assumption disproved every day on Instagram with clients. Sure, we’re finding success in Retail, but we’re also seeing great success in Travel and Finance.

Instagram is a place where 400 million people come each day for a few seconds of enjoyment and discovery. What classifies as “enjoyment” or “discovery” won’t be the same for every person. But given how strong Facebook/Instagram targeting is, it’s likely that no matter what industry you’re in, you’ll be able to find a good audience on Instagram.


Lastly, how do you envision the future of Instagram marketing as it pertains to brands? (Ad Unit types, interactions, different pricing models, metrics to measure, etc)

I think the first quarter of 2016 will show us a lot about how Facebook wants to handle Instagram going forward.

So far, we’ve just seen Facebook advertising elements – a Lookalike audience or a Carousel App Install unit, for example – brought over to Instagram. It’s been a smart place to start, but what’s next? Will Instagram be able to have it’s own DNA, or will it simply follow along and try to keep parity with Facebook advertising?

Additionally, what will happen as more and more advertisers start on Instagram? Yes, prices will increase, but how will an average user react? How long will it take for the incredible performance we’re seeing on Instagram to start to slip? Can it be offset heavily by knowing best practices and methods for success?

Clearly, there’s a lot to consider as we move into 2016 for Instagram. We’re just thankful we’re in early and have been able to make the last months of 2015 so productive on the channel for our clients!



Bamboo is an agency that manages sustainable social and mobile advertising campaigns.

Our clients trust us to scale their customer acquisition efforts while discovering and compounding efficiency gained on each dollar spent.

A special mix of extreme transparency, our world-class optimization process, and the best media buying technology available makes our service value unmatched, even by the vast majority of in-house teams.

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