Like so many social media platforms before it, Instagram has been the hip young darling of the Internet. And just like with its predecessors, that status might be in jeopardy due to Instagram’s attempt to monetize.
There soon will be advertising on Instagram. (Let the ragequits and Internet discussions begin.) In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at what we do know.
How integrated/intrusive will the advertising be? And what about copyright and usage? After all, Instagram was purchased not long ago by Facebook so it is not unreasonable to expect similarities in practices. The ABC News provides a nice summation:
The advertising will be part of the core experience, or what is called native advertising. Brands and companies will pay for their ‘high-quality photos and videos’ to appear in your feed. Similar to Facebook, which bought Instagram last year for $1 billion, users will be able to hide an ad they don’t like or isn’t relevant to them.
Instagram also specifically said in its blog post that your photos and videos continue to belong to you, likely addressing the issues it had months ago when it made changes to its terms of service, implying it might take users’ photos and place them in ads.
‘As always, you own your own photos and videos. The introduction of advertising won’t change this,’ Instagram said in the post.
This, of course, brought on a storm of angry tweets and posts across the Internet, just as Instagram’s aquisition by Facebook did back in 2012. Despite the threats and vitriol the Instagram has only seen its number of users increase and increased Instagram likes across all other integrated social media platforms.
Then there is the part about the ads being “high-quality photos and videos.” A great starting point, but it leaves future implementation open. As things evolve, we might end up seeing shoddier offerings as the price of entry reduces. By that point, everyone will be used to seeing ads and the uproar will probably be minimal.
Matt Buchanan at The New Yorker delineates what I consider to be the largest issue with ads on the platform:
The problem that Instagram faces as it starts slowly pouring ads into users’ feeds is that, until now, most everything it has done — except for removing its photos from Twitter — has been in earnest, despite the fact it is owned by one of the most fundamentally cynical companies in technology. People connect to Instagram and its content, and love it because, as Paul Ford put it, it is sincere. But there’s nothing less sincere than an ad.
While marketing people may not want to hear it, that last line speaks eloquently of the view most have of ads. This is why I’ll always stand by content as the best delivery mechanism for promotion.
George "Loki" Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.