Photo-sharing app Instagram has confirmed that adverts will be introduced to its service in an effort to monetize a 150 million-plus user base.
The news was announced by in a blog-post titled “Instagram as a growing business” with the company stating that “in the next couple of months” US users may starting seeing “an occasional ad” in their Instagram feed.
With one eye on a potential backlash from users, Instagram's post struck a decidedly reassuring tone, assuring readers that “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,” says the post.
It also seems that in an effort to not shock users advertisements will be vetted in accordance with the site’s aesthetic: “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."
"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’s announcement has been long expected. The company was bought by Facebook in April 2012 for $1bn (£629m) but has yet to make a profit.
Brands and celebrities already use the site as a platform to engage fans and consumers, but Instgram has yet to fully take leverage the potential of its user base; an audience mostly comprised of lucrative demographics including teens and young adults.
Previous attempts to monetize the service included a change to the site’s Terms and Conditions suggesting that Instagram could sell rights to users’ images to advertisers.
The backlash to this was substantial and Instagram seem to recognise this in the latest announcement, assuring users that “As always, you own your own photos and videos”.
The announcement is the latest example of tech companies turning to native advertising as a possible revenue stream, with this particular marketing tactics relying on messages from companies masqueradeing as typical site content.
This can sometimes be a difficult trick to pull off, but given the homogeneity already afforded to Instagram's photographers by the app's image filters and square format, blending in with the crowd will probably not prove much of a challenge for brands.
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