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Instagram will start telling brands which products users bookmark, which could be used for ad targeting

Key Points
  • Instagram is developing a feature that will show brands which of their products users are bookmarking for future purchase. 
  • The tool is part of Facebook's efforts to build out robust shopping features on Instagram. 
Adam Mosseri, Facebook
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

One year after forming a team to develop shopping specific features, Facebook's Instagram is now beginning to develop analytics tools that brands could eventually use for ad targeting.

Instagram last month introduced a tool that lets users bookmark products they find on the social network. Now, Instagram is working on an insight tool that will show brands which of their items users are saving, said Layla Amjadi, Instagram product manager. Instagram intends to release this feature within the first half of 2019.

"It's a difficult thing to maintain all of the products that have piqued your interests across these multiple sites," Amjadi said in a phone call on Thursday. "That's a problem that businesses told us they personally have and are excited for us to help them solve within Instagram."

In short, bookmarking a product you see on Instagram could mean that one day you'll start seeing ads for it. But Facebook hasn't developed or offered those kinds of ads yet. The analytics tools for brands are the first step.

"We do not currently have ads retargeting based on Saved posts our roadmap," an Instagram spokeswoman said in a statement. 

Amjadi referred to this as a "reconsideration problem," in which a user expresses interests in an item but does not complete the purchase for numerous reasons, such as the item not being seasonably in style or a user not having the budget at that particular time.

"We can help with the reconsideration at the right time and the right place," Amjadi said.

Instagram has been experimenting with shopping features since late 2016, but it was a year ago that the company formed a dedicated shopping team, which is lead by Amjadi.

Since then, the team has built out features that allow brands to tag their products in photos and videos. Users can tap those tags for more product details and eventually be redirected to brands' websites to complete purchases. In September, Instagram said that 90 million of its 1 billion users are now tapping on tagged products on a monthly basis.

"We're trying to build for people a personalized mall within Instagram," said Amjadi, comparing shopping on the app to the real-life experience of going window shopping from store to store with a bunch of friends.

Instagram says it is focused on "nailing the consumer experience" of its shopping feature, but it's certainly signaling that eventually these features will have advertising components to them.

"This is just an additional path right now to give people and businesses an opportunity to come closer together in a way that people want," Amjadi said.

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