Valerie  |  Singapore
Published 2014-09-24 10:30:45

Users of Instagram can wave goodbye to Ad-Free Instagram feed, and say hello to Sponsored Instagram feed. Like every other app, there comes a time when business is up on the list of ‘Things To Do To Grow My App’. Wholly owned by Facebook, the company has seen tremendous growth on the forefront of yet another social platform to conquer the world – Instagram and the future of its sponsored advertisements.

As a means of sustaining their business plans, about a year ago Instagram announced their not-so-secret plan to unveil advertisements for users in the United States while users in the United Kingdom are expecting ads this month. The update includes a photo or video that would on occasion pop up to users. Something new to users as unrelated photos or videos from people they do not follow is included. Question is, what can users expect to see from these adverts?

Image Credit: CNN
Image Credit: CNN

In 2012, news broke out to users after Instagram granted rights to sell photos of users to third parties without letting users know otherwise. Several critics concluded that they no longer want to use Instagram and switch to Pheed, an app that mirrors Instagram. During this time, Instagram reportedly loss its strong user base and in response retracted their terms only after National Geographic Society and Kim Kardashian reverted on the issue.

Here are some things you have yet to know about these advertisements:

1. The ads include strong brands that already have a social media presence on Instagram.

Instagram’s global head of business and brand development James Quarles told The Guardian that brands that already have a strong presence on Instagram such as Waitrose, Waitrose, Rimmel, Channel 4, Starbucks, Cadbury, Estee Lauder and Sony Music. This is because they want users to experience the ads as naturally as possible, as if they were going through high-quality ads in a magazine. Except that there will be a ‘Sponsored’ word at the top right corner where the time stamp normally appears.

2. If you see a sponsor you do not like, you can do something about it.

Image Credit: Reputation impression
Image Credit: Reputation impression

Instagram prioritises advertisements that have creativity and can create engagement. If you’re looking at a sponsored photo that seems quite unrelated to what you are interested in, all you need to do is to tap the “…” button tag below the sponsored post. Therefore, users are still relatively in control of the sort of ads that come to display in their feed.

3. Your interests are still important.

Just like Facebook, user information is the gold mine of data collection. The sole purpose is to understand the user better, the same goes to Instagram. If you link your Facebook account to your Instagram account, most likely the ads that would appear on the feed would be closely related to your interests on Facebook. For example, if you’ve ‘liked’ a certain brand on Facebook, then that particular brand’s sponsored photo may also appear on your Instagram feed.

4. Users like you and me own photos and videos.

The pictures that users own are rightly theirs. Instagram has made it clear in their Terms that introducing ads would not affect copyright. We don’t have to be concerned about advertisers prying on our photos and take it without prior permission and in any way, compromise rights to virtually own photos.

5. The ads are not going to be coming out in full force.

Image Credit: Mirror.co.uk
Image Credit: Mirror.co.uk

Quarles have assured Instagram users via The Guardian that they are trying to make the process of incorporating the ads “slow, measured and thoughtful”.

“We are going to go slow, and we are going to learn. At the start, it’s a very slow introduction to the market, to help people understand what it looks like. We’re very much in a learning mode, but we think we’ve struck a great balance in the States.”

However, one thing that Instagram should note is the price suitability of the brands involved in the advertisements. 

Late last year, luxury brand Michael Kors posted their first advertisement on Instagram. There were a lot of likes from the post, to date about 200,000 in likes, comments as well, and a few care-less users who clearly had something to say. A user commented, “If you’re going to do sponsored ads you should at least make them cheaper I can’t afford this.”

Image Credit: StrataBlue
Image Credit: StrataBlue

Quite right, seeing as the brands involved now seem to be brands that are considered high fashion and usually are rather costly. However, Ben and Jerry’s are using sponsored pictures too and I for one definitely don’t mind looking at delicious ice cream on Instagram.

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