Instagram Is Getting Ads, But Please Chill Out

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Will this forever change your selfie game? Buried beneath the news of Twitter's IPO plan going public, yesterday was the announcement that Instagram will begin carrying ads in its users feeds. In a blog post, titled "Instagram as a Growing Business," the company promised to "start slow" and deliver "a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community." Users will also hide ads and provide feedback on ones they don't like. The company wants the whole program to feel as organic as possible. "After all, our team doesn’t just build Instagram, we use it each and every day," the company says. But, as one might expect, people were still taken aback, and not in a good way. Many were downright MAD.

Users said the digital sky was falling when Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. They cried and caterwauled when the company included admittedly icky language to its terms of use, stating that users' images could appear in connection with ads with zero compensation to them. But Instagram heard the cries and removed that line; and since the Facebook acquisition, its user base has grown from 30 million to 150 million. Instagram is not going anywhere.

Also, did anyone not see this coming? Both Twitter and Facebook have integrated ads into their services. As Bloomberg Businessweek notes, "Twitter’s success with promoted tweets shows that a few artfully placed ads won’t necessarily ruin a socia media site." Pinterest announced not long ago that it would begin an ad program, too.

That is not, of course, meant to defend Instagram's decision. Other commenters on the Instagram blog asked why the company didn't choose to offer a paid, premium, ad-free version of the platform instead. It's a valid question, and one that the company likely posed to itself already. But, if we were to guess, we'd say it wagered that the number of users who will grumble but still use the service with ads greatly outnumber the people willing to pay for it.

In the meantime, let's just be thankful for the freedom of selfie expression. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
instagramPhoto: Via Bloomberg Businessweek.