Instagram turned three years old last week, and it’s about time for the social media app to get its first advertisements.
Following the trend of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram revealed plans last week to roll out advertisements onto the photo feeds of all of its users. Director of Business Operations for Instagram Emily White said the photo-sharing social network will start selling ads by the end of the year.
This is the latest effort by Instagram to turn itself into a sustainable business through the use of both photo and video ads, according to a post on Instagram’s website last week.
Instagram also ensured in last week’s blog post that the users’ photos are their own property, in light of users’ concerns that their photos would be used for commercial purposes.
Instagram said in its blog post that the ads won’t ruin the sleek aesthetic that Instagram users enjoy today, but rather the ads will be high-quality and engaging, such as the ones on which readers linger as they flip through a magazine.
User reaction is mixed, with some saying that targeted advertising, such as that on Facebook, is an invasion of privacy. Others say they are already accustomed to pervasive advertisements on the web.
Amy Sieracki, a senior social work major, said she is OK with the policy change.
“Online advertising in social media doesn’t bother me,” Sieracki said. “It’s a free service, and a few ads won’t hurt my experience.”
Chris Watkins, a senior film major, said he was fine with the new changes. He said he prefers that advertisements cater to his specific interests.
“As long as they aren’t using my personal info for negative things, or potentially harmful things, I’m cool with it,” Watkins said. “I actually like it since there would be ads there anyway. Why not tailor it to stuff I’d more likely care for?”
While Instagram users already see ads from the brands they follow, the addition of these ads may not pertain to the user’s interest. However, users have the option to hide ads they don’t like as well as provide feedback.
Still, some users like Khiry Bowie, an undeclared sophomore, said he does not like the idea that his private photo stream will be polluted by ads.
“It’s an invasion of privacy,” Bowie said. “Since I choose to make my options private, they should stay private.”
“After that [idea], I started using the app less and less,” he said. “And hearing this, I probably won’t come back anytime soon.”
It is doubtful that the inclusion of ads will negatively affect the majority of the more than 150 million Instagram users worldwide, since most people are already accustomed to scrolling through ads on Facebook or skipping over them in YouTube videos. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to watch how the inclusion of Insta-Ads will play out.