Ads To Start Cropping Up In Instagram Photos
October 4, 2013

Ads To Start Cropping Up In Instagram Photos

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Instagram has officially announced its intention to install ads in its users’ photo feeds. The inevitable switch to advertising will take place over the next couple of months as users begin to see photos and videos from accounts they do not follow.

Facebook bought the photo sharing service last year for an estimated $1 billion, leading many to believe Instagram ads were soon to follow. Since this acquisition, Instagram’s active user numbers have grown from 30 million to 150 million. Instagram announced its intent to sell ads moments before Twitter revealed its plans to go public.

The switch to an ad-based source of revenue is a logical one, but it remains a delicate step towards profitability. CEO Kevin Systrom and director of business operations Emily White have been carefully deciding how these ads will look and are careful not to simply “plop in banner ads.”

“We have big ideas for the future, and part of making them happen is building Instagram into a sustainable business,” reads an Instagram blog post.

“In the next couple months, you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed if you’re in the United States. Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow. We’ll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community,” reads the post.

Users will be able to dismiss ads which they believe are irrelevant, but they won’t be able to dismiss ads entirely. Instagram also makes a point to mention every user owns their photographs regardless of advertising. Systrom sparked some controversy last year when he announced changes to the terms of service, which would have allowed advertisers to use these photographs in their promotional material without asking permission or paying the user.

Emily White, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, explained how carefully the Instagram team is approaching the launch of ads.

“We want to make money in the long term, but we don’t have any short-term pressure,” said White, indicating the company was willing to take its time on rolling out ads.

While the photo-sharing site was taking its time to make a decision, advertisers were learning how to create effective ads suitable for the platform without paying for them. Brands such as Levi Strauss, Nike and Starbucks have been using the photo sharing service as a part of their marketing campaigns for months, and while they work closely with Instagram to create these ads, they don’t yet pay to have a visible presence on the social network. Instagram is being careful not to run off users, but it is also attempting to maintain brands while it brings in new advertisers.

Neither Instagram nor Facebook have commented on how these ads will look or how much they’ll cost brands who want to use them. A spokesperson only told the Wall Street Journal the ads would look “natural” and blend in with users’ feeds.