It had to happen eventually. One of the last great ad-free mobile services, bought out by Facebook and looking to find a way to monetize its huge userbase, Instagram will soon begin feeding advertisements to users in the US. The rollout of ads will be gradual, and the format will most resemble Twitter’s promoted tweets. Ads will appear in a users feed as paid-for photos and videos.
This means brands that you don’t currently follow will appear next to the friends and users that you do. Because the change might rub some the wrong way, Instagram is easing us into things by using ads sparingly over the next few months, and at first only supporting brands that already have an established presence on the social network.
Instagram is also using the slow rollout as an opportunity to refine the advertisements on the network. Users can hide unwanted ads and provide feedback about why they did not want to see the promoted content in their feed. We can’t complain too much, as Instagram has been a free service with no clear revenue stream since its inception. The people behind it have to start making money somehow. If we must accept this inevitability, at least the company is giving the impression that they are dedicated to only providing quality advertisement.