How Are FB & Instagram Recommendations Changing Mobile Advertising?

Lately, our FB and Instagram feeds are flooded with short-form videos. How is this affecting mobile advertising?

“Make Instagram Instagram again”.

“Stop trying to be TikTok”.

When Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian make complaints about Instagram’s algorithm, you know there’s something big going on.

This happened a couple of months ago when Meta was testing new Instagram updates. Even though they paused changes after celebrity criticism, they aren’t calling it quits.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, by the end of 2023, 30% of Instagram and Facebook feeds will be based on AI-recommended content.

Facebook and Instagram recommendations are not the only but are certainly the most controversial change announced by Meta.

What other changes are coming? And most importantly, What does all this mean for mobile advertisers?

Let’s find out.

Main Instagram and Facebook Changes

Meta announced the upcoming Facebook and Instagram updates as a “new, immersive viewing experience”.

Here’s how they plan to make this come true.

Moving to Short-Form Video

 Instagram Recommendations reels

Source: Instagram

Instagram used to be a place you’d visit to see cute pictures of your friends and family. If you wanted, you could look through strangers’ posts in a separate feed.

This feels like ancient history, right?

For a while now, our feeds have been flooded with videos and posts from strangers. They are typically Reels, a short-form video format introduced in 2019.

In the future, we’ll see even more of this.

According to Instagram, 91% of its active users admit they watch videos on a weekly basis. With the growing popularity of video content, Instagram is set to become a video-centric platform. Once the updates roll out, Instagram videos will:

  • Appear vertically on the users’ main feeds
  • Become a more important part of the home experience
  • Blend in together with photos to form an immersive experience

Instagram is getting so serious about video content that they even announced lower ranks for videos with watermarks from other video platforms, like TikTok.

In other words, they are gradually moving away from what made Instagram popular in the first place — images.

Facebook & Instagram Recommendations

At the moment, about 15% of content shown on users’ Facebook and Instagram feeds consists of posts from users we don’t follow.

On Instagram, this number is slightly higher.

Essentially, Facebook and Instagram recommendations consist of content suggested by Meta’s algorithm. This content is based on the users’ interests, past activity, connections, etc.

At Meta, they are very focused on building an effective recommendation system.

As we mentioned before, by the end of 2023, the amount of recommended content on the users’ feeds is set to double and reach 30%.

Paused, but Temporarily

kim kardashian on Instagram Recommendations

Soon after Instagram started testing its changes, a big part of it was paused due to loud criticism.

To be more specific, they stopped testing the full-screen feed and reduced the number of recommended posts.

But, this is only a temporary decision.

Meta’s representatives have said that they will need a little more time to “get this right,” emphasizing that they are aware that such changes “can be an adjustment.” The company has also pointed out that as the world evolves, they need to follow.

Based on all this, it’s pretty clear that the company is not giving up on the changes. They are only considering other options for introducing them.

In other words, they’re looking for ways to differ from TikTok.

Why is Meta Making These Changes?

Meta isn’t changing because they want to make their users miserable and cut them off from their friends’ lives.

The reason why this is happening is quite simple.

You guessed it — profit.

meta net revenues

Source: Meta Earnings Presentation Q3 2022

These changes were made public around the same time it was reported that Meta’s revenues have declined. On top of that, Meta is also experiencing reduced demand for digital advertising.

At the same time, the profit from Instagram Reels has reached an annual run rate of over $1 billion. Also, the amount of time users spent engaging with Reels on Instagram and Facebook increased by more than 30% (TechCrunch).

Obviously, at Meta, they are hoping to make Reels their new cash cow.

Of course, the company is wrapping this up a bit differently. They claim that the point of their recommendation system is to create a “flywheel of discovery”. This should boost social connections and encourage users to create more content.

Gen Z Marketing Factor

It’s no secret that Gen Z’s favorite social media channels are TikTok and Snapchat.

Heck, they’re even using TikTok as a search engine instead of Google.

While Instagram is a close third, Facebook is not their cup of tea. Since this generation is one of the biggest consumer groups, everyone is out to get them — including Meta.

Undoubtedly, Instagram recommendations and short-form videos are making Instagram very similar to TikTok. At Meta, they are hoping this will capture Gen Z’s attention and additionally boost usage rates.

But the question left hanging in the air is — do they want another version of TikTok?

What Does This Mean for Mobile Marketers?

If you promote your app on Facebook or Instagram, you should definitely be aware of this upcoming change.

But, it probably won’t make a huge difference to you.

How come?

For marketers, the biggest change is that more of them will start creating video ads. They will abandon some of their standard advertising practices, even if they worked well for them in the past.

This will be quite an adjustment.

When it comes to app marketing, video is already the go-to format. Everyone knows there is no better way to highlight the features of an app or game than through a video ad.

“Algorithmically” speaking this won’t make a huge difference for you. However, as an advertiser, you will probably face more crowded competition in the short-format video arena.

For this reason, if you want to do better, you’ll need to adjust your advertising strategy.

Reel the Users in

Have you ever used Reels ads to promote your app?

If your answer is no, you’ll have some homework to do.

Reels ads are vertical, full-screen ads that appear between organic Reels. They give you a chance to reach users while short-form videos entertain them. These ads can last up to 30 seconds and come with a small “sponsored” mark.

Here are some tips for creating stellar Reels for your app or game:

  • Make them similar to organic reels
  • Don’t start with your app’s logo
  • Include an attention grabber in the first few seconds
  • Use trending music
  • Make it dynamic and fun

Team up With the Right Influencers

mobile app influencer

Love it or hate it, influencer mobile marketing is still a hot trend.

Especially if you’re trying to reach Gen Z.

With the rise of Facebook and Instagram recommendations, this is set to continue.

But, note this.

You should be teaming up with influencers who know how to create engaging Reels, not those who have the prettiest images. Your main goal should be to find people who will promote your app in an authentic, relatable, yet exciting way.

Don’t forget — follower count is not a big deal.

Currently, there is a trend of working with micro and nano influencers. These influencers typically have high engagement rates and a tight bond with their followers.

Facebook & Instagram Recommendations Wrap up

Despite all criticism, Meta is not backing out from announced updates.

The changes are coming, and the only question is what they will look like.

The focus on Facebook and Instagram recommendations will significantly change the user experience on these platforms. Naturally, this will affect all forms of advertising — including mobile advertising.

Not sure you want to continue promoting your app on Instagram and Facebook?

Perhaps it’s time to move from mainstream ad networks and try out something new. In the 2022 AppsFlyer Index, myAppFree was named the 3rd fastest growing mobile ad network in the U.S., and 6th globally. If you want to know more, feel free to reach out to us!

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