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Why we should get over the idea of ads on Instagram



"Congratulations, you just won a prize!"

"Your friends are waiting for you to play Farm Crush Reality right now! Download HERE"

This is the tedious, all too familiar experience found lurking in the world of free apps; a product of the eternal struggle for platforms to monetise in a way that doesn't scare off their users with subscription fees or payments, but needs to keep their investors' pockets fat.

Advertising, when misplaced or misunderstood, can drive an infuriating wedge between users and the experience they came looking for, a necessary interruption made all the more enraging when a service then offers a paid-for model to cut the ads out. "Yes, ads ruin this a bit," they apparently admit, "so if you give us some cash we'll give you the app you actually wanted". 

Which is why we should be glad that Instagram is using the right kind of ads.


Since 2013, Instagram has been experimenting with advertising across its channels, running around 475 campaigns that delivered individual images to users' feeds, or added video clips and carousels. According to their interaction studies, the ads worked: a larger-than-average number of users saw the ads and clicked on them, compared to other online ad formats. As a result, Instagram is set to roll out ads in a much bigger way

For an unspecified amount, brands - large or small - will be able to pay Instagram to post an ad to the feeds of users. These ads could take the form of 'direct response' images, asking users to "sign up on a website, buy a product, or download an app", while another route will see advertisers use a model employed by Instagram owners Facebook: for a specific fee, advertisers will be able to target their dream demographic, such as 25-to-30-year-old males living in the north of England with an interest in football.

Another monetising feature the photo app is looking to implement is a "Shop Now" button: rather than sending Instagram users on a merry chase for an item by copying and pasting a shopping link bolted into the comments section, the shopping button will give you a direct route to buying those new knitted trainers Nike just posted on their feed.


An example of a potential money-making Instagram post with Nike

While it's easy to baulk at the knowledge that Instagram will be bringing content to your feed that you didn't specifically want to follow, it's much better than the pop-up filled nightmare that could have been.

Instagram is eager to remain a community-driven platform - and this monetising model follows that mentality. Rather than filling your feed with ads that don't apply to you, you should find ads entering your hashtag-filled world that sit neatly alongside the accounts you're used to following. What's more, if you don't like an ad, you'll be able to tell Instagram to get rid of that content in future (in the same way Facebook ads currently operate). 

If you're not inclined to click online ads, chances are you'll just have one more image to scroll through on your time-killing scrolls through your Insta-feed. It won't bite your thumb in an attempt to make some cash, and it won't clog up your feed in an attempt to get some clicks. And if it does, we can expect the next big photo-sharing app to pick up the irate purists by the end of the year. 



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