Instagram ads

For those who’ve been following Instagram for a while, it will hardly come as a surprise that the company today announced it will start delivering ads into the feed of US users in the next couple of months.

Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook over a year ago, has yet to turn a profit. This new decision to start displaying ads on mobile devices might exactly be what the company needs to become profitable, even if it means alienating a few users in the process…

We already knew ads would come to Instagram, but we didn’t expect them to come so quickly. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, Instagram COO Emily White was quoted saying that the company could be ready to begin selling ads within the next year. It seems things have accelerated since then.

At first, only Instagram users based in the US will be be delivered ads, a move that is not very surprising as Instagram sales force wants to focus first on its home turf, which is where most of its users are anyways. In a blog post published today on Instagram’s blog, the company explains:

We have big ideas for the future, and part of making them happen is building Instagram into a sustainable business. 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.

Because Instagram offers a very visual experience, photo and video ads is almost a natural evolution:

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 made a few users unhappy last year when it unveiled its new ToS, and this move towards photo and video ads certainly won’t make things any better. As a very frequent Instagram user, I am obviously not excited about the news, but I completely understand that the company can’t operate at loss forever and has to eventually generate profits. If they can push targeted and beautiful ads to my feed, it will definitely be easier to endure than if they pushed ugly and irrelevant ads.

I suspect many users will be offended by the move and decide to go elsewhere to share their square photos and videos, but in the grand scheme of things, this will probably not be a big loss for Instagram and its 150 million users.

What do you think about this move? Are you surprised? Will you keep using the service of is this going to be a turn off?