Instagram Introduces Ads

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Posted At: September 11, 2013 8:30 p.m.
by Ashley Jones

Brace yourself Instagrammers: Advertisements will start taking over your feed soon. Instagram Director of Business Operations Emily White recently announced that the popular photo-sharing app will begin selling ads within the next year, and if you’re like me, this is the last thing you want to see when scrolling through your picture feed.

Like other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has joined the social advertising craze, shifting its focus from being social to becoming a powerful moneymaking machine. For many avid Instagrammers, this transition is dreaded, but comes as no surprise.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has exploded on the social media scene by offering users a simple and completely ad-free way to creatively capture and share the world’s moments at the touch of a button. With more than 150 million active users today, Instagram executives are now challenged with the task of integrating ads into the app without affecting its expanding user base.

Instagram already came under fire once this past year after revising its terms of service, which enabled Instagram to sell users’ photos or turn their photos into ads. The sudden policy change received major backlash, causing the company to experience a 25 percent loss in its user base, according to reports.

Will the same thing happen again when the photo-sharing app transforms from a completely ad-free medium to an over-commercialized platform consumed with clothing ads and restaurant suggestions?

To help maintain Instagram’s rapidly growing user base, White insists the ads will slowly start appearing on feeds, in hopes of preserving its users’ satisfaction. White also suggests integrating ads into the search feature and popular images section, so ads won’t completely take over users’ feeds. According to Business Insider, Instagram executives are in no rush to implement the ad campaign and will spend the next year testing solutions that work best for user satisfaction. With the addition of ads, White’s main focus will be to maintain a solid reputation with its user base.

From a business standpoint, incorporating ads into Instagram seems to be the next big step. For Facebook who recently shelled out $1 billion for the app, it’s a chance to see a return on their investment. However, from a user’s standpoint, sponsored content will interrupt the beauty of seeing your friends’ real-time experiences without becoming completely overwhelmed with product placements.

As ads begin to appear on our feeds, I can only hope Instagram won’t become a robust advertising business like Facebook. Only time will tell how successful advertising will be for Instagram. Until then, enjoy your ad-free feed while you can!

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