The targeting tool, which will also be made available through Facebook, uses signals based on local market keywords and will alert advertisers to people posting or engaging with Instagram content containing keywords specifically relating to the festive buying period.

The new segment, which will be available up until New Year’s Day, follows a slew of new ad formats that have been rolled out on Instagram over recent months.

In September, fashion label Michael Kors became the first brand to utilise Instagram’s new 30-second Marquee video video format as it also officially launched its global ad platform. The longer Marquee videos are designed to give brands more flexibility so they can offer ‘cinematic content’.

“Advertisers are shifting their focus this holiday season from people’s mailbox to their mobile phones and Instagram has become brands’ shop window, where they’re launching videos to evoke the festive spirit,” said Amy Cole, head of brand development for EMEA at Instagram.

Cole claims that 59% of consumers will shop differently this Christmas, with 40% shopping more online.

She adds: “Instagram can provide a ‘look book’, where small businesses promote unique gift ideas. And it’s an endless product catalogue in people’s pockets, where advertisers are promoting their new styles and enabling people to discover and start shopping.”

Growing influence among marketers

The new targeting tool comes amid new research by digital agency Greenlight, which suggests over half (53%) of UK marketers plan to make use of Instagram in 2016 in order to boost sales.

Among those marketers, 29% plan to use Instagram’s recently launched advertising service, while a quarter (23%) plan to target customers via a branded account. And it would appear that creating brand awareness (50%) is the key reason behind marketers’ use of Instagram closely followed by brand storytelling (30%).

Yet despite the rise of Instagram, marketers are still steering clear, according to Greenlight.

Of the 100 senior marketers it surveyed, 60% are not currently using Instagram as a marketing tool despite 30% of Instagram users admitting to buying items after seeing them in photos or videos on the app.

“The sharable nature of Instagram makes it the perfect channel to understand what loved ones might be hankering for this Christmas,” says Andreas Pouros, co-founder of Greenlight.

“With this in mind, marketers should therefore be using Instagram to encourage ‘hint dropping’ sharing this festive season. It can provide a unique snapshot of the intimate wants and preferences of its users.”