See the First Brands to Use Instagram's Carousel Ads

Old Navy, Samsung, Showtime, Banana Republic Among Initial Advertisers

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Old Navy is using Instagram's carousel ad for a day-in-the-life series.
Old Navy is using Instagram's carousel ad for a day-in-the-life series.
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Sometimes not even a single picture is enough for advertisers to convey their message.

That's why Instagram added a new ad unit last month designed as a digital analog to the multi-page print magazine spread. In each so-called carousel ad, advertisers can include up to four photos that people can swipe through as well as a link to a dedicated landing page.

In an interview with Ad Age in March, Instagram's global head of business and brand development James Quarles said the carousel ads were an answer for advertisers looking to do deeper storytelling with their ads on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service.

Now brands like Old Navy, Showtime, Banana Republic and Samsung are ready to show what kinds of stories they'll be telling with the new ad format.

For example, Old Navy will use the carousel ads to promote its Baja wear through a series of day-in-the-life vignettes (as seen the photo at the top of this article). By blending the product with real-life scenes, people will be able to see how to wear items from Old Navy's Baja line as well as when and where to wear them, according to Old Navy's director of digital and social strategy Taylor Bux.

"The way we're crafting the story is putting it into the context of real life. The model who's wearing the product is actually experiencing a day at the beach: surfing, meeting that guy, having an ice cream cone. And the serialized content is telling that story," Mr. Bux said.

Here are ways other brands will be using Instagram's carousel ads:

Showtime will use the carousel ads to spotlight different characters from its horror show "Penny Dreadful." Each ad will feature a different character with multiple images taken from the series as a way to spark interest in its second season, which premieres on May 3.

Banana Republic is going the more traditional route. Like a social-infused magazine spread, the retailer's carousel ads will show fashion blogger Aimee Song -- who has more than 2 million followers on Instagram -- decked out in four different outfits to show off Banana Republic's spring collection.

Tiffany & Co. is using the carousel ads to go after guys. The jewelry maker will market its new men's watch with various images that look to play up its Swiss craftsmanship by juxtaposing it with black-and-white images of New York architecture.

Samsung has chosen to put the focus on its Galaxy S6 smartphone's camera with a photo tutorial detailing how to use certain features -- and spotlighting the results with each of the ad's images.