Imagine scrolling through Reels of your favorite celebrities trying—and most times failing—to dance amapiano, then boom: an ad pops up.

Well, heads up Africa! You’re going to be seeing a lot of that soon, because Facebook’s rolling out a sizzling new update, Reels ads, to help businesses widen their audience reach. 

Last year Instagram released Reels, a TikTok clone, to counter TikTok’s growing domination of the short-form video space. Already, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times across Apple’s App Store and Google Play and is rapidly becoming the go-to place for fun video content. Even Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, has acknowledged TikTok’s pioneer status, stating that Instagram is still in a “catch-up phase”. 

So, it’s not surprising that Instagram has decided to take another step in its catch-up journey by launching the Reels ads feature—which seems quite similar to TikTok’s in-feed ads.

Already, the ad feature has been tested in select countries around the world, and will now be available to users in 25 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa including; Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tunisia, Swaziland, South Africa, Seychelles, Senegal, Namibia, Morocco, Mali, Malawi, Libya, Lesotho, Guinea, Egypt, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Algeria.

How will it look?

The Reel Ads feature will look like your regular Reels. They’d be full screen and vertical, and will appear in between individual Reels. The ads will also loop and can be up to 30 seconds, and you can like, view, save, and even share them.

 However, don’t worry about mixing the two up. All ads on your Reels will be marked ‘sponsored’.

PS: We discovered that the Reels Ads update—much like Reels—is not available on the Instagram Lite app, for now—hmm, wonder if that’s a bummer or a blessing. 

Example of Reels ad for the article, 
Instagram launches Reels ads in Sub-Saharan Africa
Image: Instagram

What’s in it for you?

The Reels Ads feature offers a variety of opportunities for African Insta influencers, business owners, and users.

With this new update, you can reach a ton of new people – followers or not – with targeted ads. Reels Ads also promises rising influencers, like the famous beauty boy, a chance at collaborating with creators and brands on a global scale.

The fact that it merges seamlessly with the Reels feature is a bonus point too. So users can enjoy their usual Reels experience and still get to explore new content.

We see Reels as a great way for people to discover new content on Instagram, and so ads in Reels are a natural fit. Brands of all sizes can take advantage of this new creative format in an environment where people are already being entertained,” says Jocelyne Muhutu, Facebook’s Strategic Media Partnerships Manager, SSA.

We know what you’re thinking, “What if I don’t like these ads interrupting my Reels?

Well, you still have some control over the ads. Users can skip or report ads they don’t like. So maybe this will pan out well for Instagram and its African audience alike. 

However, we think that with Insta’s greater number of active users, more brands may likely strengthen their presence on the Reels platform. And more brands mean more reach and more opportunities for fresh young talent to be discovered. Just saying…

Chidinma Egwuogu | Author