In the interests of recouping its billion dollar acquisition fee and establishing a sustainable business model capable of making it rain and turning 150 million registered users into giant luminescent dollar signs, Facebook-owned food porn and fitness emporium Instagram has today announced its intention to roll out integrated advertising across the feeds of U.S. users only, with other markets to follow.
“In the next couple months, you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed if you’re in the United States,” Instagram said today in a blog post. “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.”
Lucky for Instagram, it was purchased by a company who knows a thing or two about how to monetize the scale of its user base. Instagram hinted at the roll out in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month when former Facebook executive turned Instagram Director of Business Operations, Emily White, said “we want to make money in the long term, but we don’t have any short-term pressure.”
Translation? Instagram’s near-exponential user growth ensures it will only become better served to turn a profit as time goes on. They just want to get it right from the get-go.
Their message: These aren’t regular ads. These are cool ads.
Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brand,” the brand said. “After all, our team doesn’t just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. 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.”
Aesthetically this makes sense. It wouldn’t be too jarring to see a beach scene Corona ad, say, next to your douchey friend’s Thailand selfie. We can see that. The larger question here is the extent to which the company is willing to go without jeopardising its “cool factor”, as WSJ puts it.
Are we going to see paid for messages on how to slim down in six easy steps next to mirror selfies? Probably not.
While saying no to prospective advertising dollars feels like a counter-intuitive business decision, the sheer value of its real estate, the engagement of its users, and the plethora of companies who desperately want their attention suggests the photo sharing app will be able to pick and choose who it authorises to pay their way into your image feed. They better know how to take a damn good picture, too.
Watch this space.