Instagram recently reached 150 million monthly active users and to celebrate that milestone, they say they’ll start selling ads within the next year. Yay! Another social media startup has gone to the dark side. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to earn an honest living and when you have 150 million sets of eyes to throw ads at, you can’t exactly blame Instagram execs for getting greedy.
The real question, is how will the ads show up and how many people will ditch the service out of disgust. Early reports indicate that the ads could pop up when users use the Discover feature or they could just appear between images as users browse. In either case, a once pristine environment will now be polluted by ads just like Facebook, the Google search results page, pretty much all web pages, and almost every other stationary or video surface on the planet.
I will be very interested to see how the ads ultimately manifest and what the result is, in terms of monthly user numbers. The funny thing about advertising is that to this day, nobody can prove how effective it is, or if it even works at all. So online advertising is even more suspect since you have to admit that many of us skip, click away, hide, or steer clear of ads we see online. I know my wife specifically avoids ever clicking on any Adwords ads that pop up when she does a Google search and so do I. Frankly, I’m sick of being sold to or at 24/7, depending on how you look at it and I think many people share that attitude.
So good luck to Instagram. I hope they handle their advertising push better than the controversy over the use and ownership of user uploaded photos that took place in December of 2012.
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