November 8, 2023
October 8, 2020

The success of Instagram Reels shows Content is truly king

Brady Akers
Head of Client Services

Instagram recently launched a new feature called Instagram Reels across 50 countries globally. Positioned as TikTok’s rival, Reels lets users record, edit, and share 30-second-long videos. Users can edit their videos to add Instagram stickers, voice-overs, effects,  etc. Instagram reels can be discovered under the ‘explore’ tab on the platform. Even though Reels is a recent launch, many brands have already taken to it, creating short-form videos to build and engage with their audience.

Within a short span of time, some IG Reels videos already boast more than 8M views and have garnered 13% higher engagement than other forms of content on Instagram! In fact, one of the first brands to take advantage of Instagram Reels was the NBA, with teams seeing incredible success. According to a report by Conviva, 20 of the NBA’s 30 teams have posted at least one Reel since the feature launched in the US. The engagements per Reel for NBA teams were noted to be 22% higher on average than the engagement on other Instagram videos posted during the same time.

Despite being called a TikTok copycat, Instagram Reels has received a great response from influencers and brands alike. Brands like Sephora, Walmart, Burger King, etc. have already made Reels a part of their content strategy in order to attract and engage with the right audience through challenges and influencer collaborations, with each video averaging over 2M views. The fact that many brands have found success with this form of content, earlier with TikTok, and now with Instagram Reels, shows that engaging content is still king in the world of digital marketing.

So with brands increasingly benefiting from an investment in sophisticated content for their social media marketing, why are these same brands continuing to rely on traditional banner ads for their display advertising efforts? After all, according to a study by CoSchedule, 64% of users report that they love consuming content through social media, while only 14% report even notice banner ads.

Clearly, it's time for advertisers to borrow a page from their social media colleagues' handbook and think more like content marketers in the way they engage users. Below are three suggestions for how they get started.

1. Tell a Story

84% of consumers expect brands to create content that engages them through storytelling, provides useful solutions, and creates entertaining experiences (Havas, 2018). This is particularly important for brands in highly undifferentiated categories like CPG where emotionally-led advertising is 2x more effective in driving consideration than "rational" advertising campaigns that primarily communicate product features and promotional pricing (Brand Immortality - 

Here, advertisers should develop creatives that embody the brand's story - its essential value proposition: how the brand, and their products, authentically address the needs and interests of target audiences. This will encourage consumers to more naturally connect and engage with advertising. Obviously, story-telling is challenging to do with static creatives, so brands should consider upgrading to video or rich media formats, which are inherently more engaging anyway.

2. Be Relevant

Immersed in social media all day, today's consumers are more plugged into "the here and the now" than they've ever been. As such, they have strong expectations for content that is timely and relevant. However, advertisers love consistency and efficiency (are maaaaaybe a little lazy, too :-) ), and tend to use the same creatives over and over again. Unfortunately, the result is that advertisers run the risk of missing opportunities to create meaningful connections with consumers by running ads that are disconnected from the reality in which they live. According to Market (2015), 63% of survey respondents said that they are highly annoyed by the way brands continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic advertising messages repeatedly.

Instead, brands can better engage with target audiences through content that is relevant to their lives and interests. By leveraging current trends, latest news, or by providing commentary on ongoing events, brands can stay relevant, newsworthy, and be at the forefront of the minds of their audience. This could require advertisers to invest in a more agile workflow for creative production, but if manageable workflows can be developed, it may be worth experimenting and evaluating the results. Of course, increased production could also have a sizeable impact on the budget; for this, see the third point, below.

3. Be more efficient and effective

Producing more content, particularly when experimenting with different approaches, like those outlined above, can be costly - both in terms of time and money.

One quick fix is to literally tap into the creative output of your social media teams, who are producing hyper-engaging content on an almost daily basis. This may require extending licenses for photography and stock imagery, but the benefit would be that you could have a virtually endless library of top-performing content and creative at your disposal to run across the World Wide Web - with little to no additional production costs.


It has become crucial for brands to relook at their content strategy when it comes to advertising. The right content, when put in front of the right audience, at the right time, can increase engagement and win them over without seeming disruptive or interruptive.

Learn how an innovative new format called Social Display can help you improve the effectiveness of your display advertising by leveraging content from your social channels and distributing it across the display networks . Connect with industry experts Casey Saran and Joe Hall from Spaceback - contact Spaceback today to get started.

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