Instagram Launches Advertisements

When Instagram announced that advertisements would start appearing in U.S. users’ feeds in early October, many users of the popular mobile photo and video sharing service worried about the potential obtrusiveness and frequency of the ads. Starting the week of November 4, Instagram began rolling out the ads, with companies like General Electric and Levi’s appearing as “Sponsored” Instagram posts on users’ feeds. Many users expected Instagram to eventually follow Facebook and Twitter’s footsteps in showing ads as the service rose in popularity, but it’s easier said than done for them to make the transition.

Instagram Launches Advertisements

Similar to Twitter’s ads, Instagram’s ads appear like anything else on a user’s feed. The only distinction an ad has from a friend’s posting is that it’s marked with a “Sponsored” label. An ellipsis on the bottom right allows users to provide feedback on the specific advertisement, helping Instagram improve the relevance of ads over time. Of course, there are some more tidbits about Instagram ads that users should be aware of:

The Ads Track Your Activity on Instagram and Facebook

Facebook is the parent company of Instagram, so it comes as little surprise that your activity on both services will be tracked to help show you the most relevant ads possible. Instagram is aiming to provide users with a relevant ad experience, but many are weary of the obvious privacy concerns often associated with big business.

Recognizable Companies Comprise Most of the Instagram Ads So Far

At least initially, the majority of Instagram ads are from very recognizable companies. Instagram’s site lists their first partners as Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Burberry, General Electric, Lexus, Levi’s, Macy’s, Michael Kors, PayPal, and Starwood. A Michael Kors ad was among the first to generate controversy in the comments with thousands debating over the necessity of ads on Instagram. Still, the advertisement has several times more likes than the Michael Kors’ average likes for a post, suggesting the ads are working just fine.

Five Percent of Ad Views Have Resulted in Likes

As suggested by the increased number of likes on the Michael Kors ad, CEO Kevin Systrom said that “over five percent of the impression led to likes on these ads that we’ve run. That’s pretty tremendous considering most of the ads we see on the internet we ignore.” While Instagram’s ads appear more responsive than others, five percent being praised also shows how ineffective most internet advertising is. Instagram advertising seeks to raise the bar in effectiveness.

Instagram Will Not Give Advertisers Access to Your Photos or Videos

Despite tracking your activity on both Instagram and Facebook, Instagram says it will not provide advertisers with your photos and videos on either platforms. “You own your photos and videos,” their official site states. “Advertising on Instagram doesn’t change this.”

While Instagram’s ads will certainly be noticeable to longtime users, they will likely become accustomed to them over time. Advertisements appearing on popular social media networks are becoming the norm, and the high engagement rate of Instagram advertisements suggests they may have already found a more effective advertising method than other social media giants.