Instagram is extending the number of photos and videos that brands can include in their slideshow-like carousel ads and opening up the format to organic posts, the Facebook-owned company announced on Wednesday.
As the update rolls out to iOS and Android users over the next few weeks, advertisers and regular accounts will be able to pick up to 10 photos and videos to include in a single post that people can swipe through horizontally. While both groups will be able to pick out the order of the photos and videos in a carousel post or ad, advertisers have the option to leave the ordering up to Instagram, whose technology will sort the content based on performance, from highest to lowest.
ESPN’s @sportscenter account used the carousel format in an organic post earlier today. And the example shows how closely the format resembles Instagram’s Story format, which it cribbed from Snapchat last year but which Instagram has not incorporated within its traditional main feed. While it seems like it would be easy for Instagram to insert ads within the organic carousels as it does within Stories, an Instagram spokesperson said the company has no plans to do so.
There is a tradeoff when including multiple photos or videos in a carousel: no landscape photos or vertical videos. For now, included photos or videos can only appear in Instagram’s traditional square format.
To make it easier to identify carousel posts on an account’s profile page, Instagram will add an icon to the posts’ thumbnails to label them, like it does with video posts.