SAN FRANCISCO: The battle for digital advertising dollars continues to intensify as Instagram and Pinterest, two visually based social media brands, have introduced new ad products.

Instagram, the photo-sharing app, calls its new format carousel ads, which, it said in a blogpost, "give brands more flexibility in telling their stories by allowing people who view their ads to swipe left to see additional images and link to a website of the brand's choice".

If they don't want to know more they can simply scroll past the carousel ads in their feed.

Likening them to multi-page print campaigns, Instagram said they had the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more.

Thus, for example, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a 'look, or a car company could share various different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model.

The product moves Instagram on from being a platform that is just about raising brand awareness and opens up potential for directly generating sales.

At this stage, however, carousel ads will only be available to a limited set of advertising partners and only in the US.

At the same time, Pinterest, the visual bookmarking tool, has refined its own offering to enable advertisers to reach more specific demographics – football lovers rather than sports lovers, for example.

It is also testing a new ad format, using animated pins that move when users scroll as a way of catching their attention.

And, echoing the developments at Instagram, Pinterest is reported to be looking at the introduction a "buy" button to allow users to purchase pinned items without having to leave the site or app.

Data sourced from Instagram, Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff