Instagram Ads Are Basically Infomercials For Millennials

by MR Magazine Staff

Scrolling through my Instagram, past elegantly posed travel photos and indulgent feasts, I was stopped in my tracks by an ad: a hoodie that incorporated a reverse mini hoodie for a baby being worn in a carrier. Entranced, I watched the demonstration, thinking about my daily 12-block-each-way walk with my infant to pick up my toddler. I needed it. Without even pausing to think about it, I purchased it. For a generation that grew up mocking infomercials and fast-forwarding through television ads, Instagram ads strike a strange balance: effective enough to drive purchasing, but just a little bit embarrassing to fall victim to so easily. They are the “As Seen on TV” (ASOTV) products of a new generation: hyper-targeted, fitting a need you didn’t even realize you had but now need to fill immediately. In this new generation of big data, there’s no sitting through Shamwow to get to your Snuggie: ads feed straight into your photo stream for leggings with pockets, new-fangled travel pillows, and socks with your dog’s face on them. “Every Instagram ad is something I make fun of until I eventually buy it,” tweeted Amanda Hess, a New York Times writer focused on online culture, in a statement equally descriptive of the strange psychology of ASOTV ads. Infomercials were born out of the cheap ad time available in the late-night hours when television stations weren’t broadcasting. The low barrier to entry meant that any idea, no matter how wacky, had a chance to succeed. The affordable pricing meant that the ads had plenty of time to use every psychological tool in the book to capture sales, rather than squeezing a message into a costly 15-second prime-time spot. They introduced unknown products, then demonstrated the need for them, and closed the deal by urging the customer to take the next step immediately (usually by calling). Read more at Racked.