Today the Instagram blog posted what might be described as a philosophical statement about advertising. For many months the Facebook unit has been considering how to turn itself into a “sustainable business.”
Ads will roll out in the relatively near future on a limited test basis. Instagram is also mindful of the potential adverse impact of ads on the user experience. We’ll have to wait and see what the ad units look like and where they appear. But Instagram said it will be careful to enhance the experience with ads.
Instagram explains in its blog post today:
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.
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 brands. 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.
Instagram added that users will remain in control and be able to hide ads they don’t like. The company also said that it will never claim ownership of user photos and videos, suggesting those won’t be used in advertising.
Instagram has 150 million users and numerous brands that are already using the site to promote themselves. Among brands and marketers there’s some pent-up demand for advertising on Instagram. The company will be working with a hand-picked few of those brands to start as it tests ads on the app and site.
Having learned many lessons from Facebook’s trial and error approach to monetization it’s likely that Instagram will be able to avoid many of the mistakes that its parent made along the way.