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The Evolution Of Social Media Ads: From Banners To TV… Again

It is difficult now to imagine a world without Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is equally hard to believe that these social media platforms did not exist just over a decade ago! Social media has already gotten so big that a whopping 2.5 billion people worldwide are social network users. Moreover, this number is expected to hit 3.02 billion by 2021.

Where consumers go, marketers follow. By 2019, global social media advertising budgets are likely to hit $50 billion, approximately 20% of all online advertising. But just how successful are social media advertising campaigns? By 2017, it was estimated that the revenue raked in totalled $12 billion. Now, THAT is impressive.

Equally impressive is the way marketers have evolved to keep up with the constant changes in social media. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of social media ads within this short span of time.

2006 – Facebook’s banner ads

Facebook was the first social platform to launch ads on their platform. In 2006, they inked a one-year contract with JP Morgan Chase to promote Chase credit cards in the form of banner ads. These are the most basic ‘image with text’ ads we still see everywhere in the digital world.

2011 – Facebook revolutionises advertising

It may be a mere 5 years in Earth time, but it is worth way more in digital time. Facebook has truly come a long way since its banner ads days. In 2011, Facebook introduced Ads API, or application programming interface, that allows any business owner to create a Facebook page and buy space on the platform to advertise. It was a time when the term “marketers” was not limited to describing corporate hotshots, but basically anyone able to launch their own advertisements. It was a smart and calculated move by Facebook. Ads not only enhanced their revenue but also put Facebook them in a class above all other social media networks.

2012 – Instagram enters the fray

Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion. In that same year, the social media newbie amassed over 80 million users. Considering there were only 1 million people on the platform just 2 years prior, this was a remarkable feat.

2013 – The move from images to video

Having been an image-sharing platform when it was launched, Instagram announced that users can now record and share personal videos. Just a few months later, Instagram rolled out ads in the form of sponsored posts and videos. This allowed businesses to boost their presence on the platform and increase connectivity to their target audiences.

2016 – Carousel ads and IG story

Carousel ads were announced by Instagram in 2016 so that businesses can sell their products through a series of videos and images. Advertising is now more visual and multifaceted, especially with the introduction of Instagram Stories. This new feature allowed users to upload content that will be visible for only 24 hours, allowing marketers to push forward flash sales and time-limited promotions.

2017 – Vertical images and videos

When Instagram was first launched, it gave rise to the popularity of squared images. It became so popular that squared photos became synonymous with Instagram and was something, dare I say, hip. 5 years since its launch, Instagram embraced vertical or portrait images and everyone went nuts for it. This was because as our smartphones got bigger, so did expectations of the images viewed on mobile screens. Vertical content automatically fill the screen, creating an awe-inspiring effect that is just a dream to look at. For this same reason, advertisements that come in this format will give off a “wow-pow” effect that optimizes the effectiveness of the promotion.

2018 and beyond – IGTV

In a move intended to contest the popularity of Youtube, Instagram announced the inception of IGTV. According to the size of their audience, users can now upload videos from 10 minutes up to an hour on Instagram. The application is completely mobile-friendly, offering users the ease of recording, editing and uploading entirely on their mobile devices. There is still no news yet as to whether IGTV will include advertisements. However, Instagram plans to bring advertising back to the days of regular TV, except the viewing will now be on everyone’s mobile device.


In a few short years, digital advertising has advanced by leaps and bounds thanks to the developments by social media giants. As the number of social media users continue to increase, so will the progress of the popular social media networks. Experts in the industry are constantly making improvements to the way users experience social media ,so we can expect more to come in the near future.


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