Unfortunately, this was more or less inevitable. Facebook needs to make money from the photo-based social platform it bought for $1 billion last year. And, if done right, there is a lot of money to be made, especially considering that (as Fast Company reports) Instagram recently reached a new milestone of 150 million monthly users. Even under Mark Zuckerberg's reign, Instagram has remained much the same so far (except for the very welcome addition of Instagram videos this past summer). Its business model and closed-circuit interface has remained static, though — until now.
Where will we encounter the dreaded ads? The Wall Street Journal predicts that the app's "Discover" and search functions are likely target zones. A more creative strategy could involve dummy photos planted for optimum viewing by advertisers; clicking these would then link to outside retail sites, though that also means that Instagram's current "no-linking" policy will have to be abolished, taking the platform one step in the other direction of those other social media sites.
Fast Company thinks Instagram ads may prove a "hard sell" to users, who still value Instagram's original promise of exclusivity. In our heads, we're imagining an all-out turf war between Instagrammers and advertisers, ending with a brutal "you can't sit with us!" rant. That, or some other ad-free network will come along and pull the rug out from under Instagram's feet. (Fast Company)