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Instagram introduces advertisements on newsfeeds

  • Instagram finally annouces what we all knew was inevitable
  • How invasive will the ads be?
  • What are your options?
Written by Katarina Matic

Instagram announced yesterday that they will be introducing advertisements subtly through Instagram newsfeeds. The online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social-networking service has been ad-free since they launched in October 2010.

The introduction of advertisements is a major change to Instagram, but not surprising to say the least. When first launched, Instagram operated through private funding from various investors. But in April last year Facebook acquired Instagram for the hefty sum of $1 billion. At the time there was much speculation that Instagram would start generating revenue through advertisements just like it’s parent company. And now here it is; the day has finally come.

The ads will slowly be introduced to Instagram to ease users into the swing of thing. As Instagram puts it: ““Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow.” The ads will be small in number and in the style and aesthetic that most people come to associate with Instagram. They will be “beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community”.

The seamless integration of advertisements is very important for Instagram. Generally, people are less likely to use a service if they are bombarded with content they do not care about. Many companies already use Instagram to advertise their products and services but the advertisements only reached those who followed the company’s account. Instagram users received advertisements from companies they liked, followed and cared about. Companies now have to opportunity to reach out to users who have not first engaged with them.

How this significant change plays out will be interesting to see. Currently there are 150 million users of Instagram around the world, and each person uses the service completely free. Will users accept the ad placements since the service is accessible at no charge? Or will users be less inclined to continue using Instagram. Will Instagram eventually introduce a system where users can pay to turn off advertising?

Instagram envisions that ads will have minimal impact and disturbance on the service. They likened the advertisements to user experience with their favourite magazines:  “We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.” Instagram is also giving users the option to hide ads they do not like and provide feedback as to why they did not like them. They hope this will create a better experience for Instagram users.

Currently the advertisements are only visible to users in the US; therefore it will take a while to fully understand the impact the change has on the 150 million users and for users here in Australia.


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