Instagram hit a new milestone on Thursday, with the company announcing that more than 500,000 companies are now advertising on its photo-based social networking platform – an increase of more than 100 per cent over last year.

More impressively – for Canadians, at least – Canada was among the top five locations for advertisers, after the U.S., Brazil, U.K., and Australia.

“In just six months, the number of advertisers has more than doubled. And that includes a variety of businesses from around the world,” the company wrote in a Sept. 22 blog post, emphasizing that businesses have been integral to the Instagram community since the beginning, with 50 per cent of users following at least one, and that as the Instagram platform has evolved it’s been with both business and personal users in mind.

“Instagram is a place where people turn their passions into purchase,” Instagram staff wrote, noting that 60 per cent of users have learned about a product or service on the platform, according to ComScore and Instagram user surveys from November 2015 and January 2016.

“By marketing to passions, businesses are turning that inspiration into action,” they wrote, noting that since the company launched its ad platform worldwide last September, users have taken 1 billion actions on Instagram ads.

For example, Canadian online jewellery retailer recently found success on Instagram by using the company’s dynamic ads service, targeting U.S. consumers who had viewed or added a product to their cart without purchasing it. The company’s return on ad spending ultimately exceeded three times its investment.

In fact, since last September 70 per cent of Instagram campaigns have generated “statistically significant” boosts for online conversion or mobile app installations, according to the company’s internal research. And after Instagram evolved its link ad formatting in June, link ad performance increased by more than 45 per cent, the company said.

“We value the businesses on the platform, and thank each of you for contributing to the Instagram community,” Instagram staff wrote. “We’ll continue to evolve our ad offering and business tools to help businesses maximize their potential on the platform and make the connections that count.”

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