instagram 20131212 event invitation

Facebook-owned Instagram is hosting a special media event next Thursday, a week from today. The photography service has unusually opted to send out invites via FedEx, not email. The invitation graphics does not seem to allude to any specific new feature introduction.

The all-white background is adorned with the Instagram logo and a short message which invites select members of the press to “share a moment” on December 12 in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at 10am EST / 7am Pacific Time. That being said, we have a pretty good idea what Instagram might unveil come next Thursday…

“You are invited to share a moment with Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team,” the invite reads. Kevin is Instagram’s co-founder and CEO, by the way.

Instagram was recently updated for the flattened iOS 7 appearance, so next Thursday won’t be about its free iPhone and iPod touch app. We also don’t think the company is about to announce any platform-specific feature.

How about ads?

Instagram was acquired by Facebook over a year ago and has yet to turn a profit.

Company officials made it clear in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal that they’d been looking to monetize the platform by rolling out photo and video ads. Cunningly enough, a recent update has stealthily removed an option to disable autoplay for Instagram videos, seemingly to ensure folks don’t miss a thing.

The official Instagram blog even shared how ads will look like and what we’ll be able to do about them. Here’s Instagram’s example of a sponsored ad.

instagram sponsored ad

 

Sure enough, Instagram’s 150+ million users recently started seeing ads in mobile apps.

The ads themselves aren’t hyperlinked. Instead, users tap on the brand’s username to be taken to their profile page and whatever link the brand features.

“Ads on Instagram are designed to help brands build awareness and tell their story visually, just like a magazine ad – they are not designed to drive transactions,” the company argues.

The list of initial advertisers features such brands as Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Burberry, General Electric, Lexus, Levi’s, Macy’s, Michael Kors, PayPal and Starwood.

instagram ad

With Instagram ads now live, I don’t imagine they’d want to spend much time talking about advertising come next Thursday.

Another possibility: a private messaging feature.

This could be a pretty interesting development because Instagram users really can’t message one another and instead communicate by leaving photo comments, which doesn’t work well.

As reported by GigaOM, Instagram indeed is gearing up to launch private messaging and is also experimenting with the idea of group messaging.

As the last and most likely possibility, CNET observes that the format of the invite itself might suggest “a service that would allow users to print their photos”, which may not be as far-fetched possibility as it sounds.

After all, photos are Instagram’s primary focus and the addition of photo printing would be a natural evolution of the popular service.

What do you think Instagram has in store for us?