Adding advertisements to a large, user-driven service is always tricky, particularly when the service has been kept essentially ad-free since inception.
Still, Instagram recently chose to navigate these somewhat murky waters with their announcement that they will allow brands to advertise to users who have not followed them (similar to the way Facebook presents right column and news feed ads to a targeted audience).
There is a something extra to consider in the announcement, however. Users are assured that “our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands.” Now, that is interesting indeed, assuming that Instagram can actually follow through and show interesting ads to users.
Although Instagram is a social network in its own right, it is also a curation service. A curation service that is dominated by a large mobile audience. As we’ve discussed before, mobile devices are a much more intimate medium than desktops or laptops. Therefore, if they can really nail their algorithm, it stands to reason that ads on Instagram could be very lucrative indeed.
While the value of Instagram ads remains to be seen (Instagrads? Adstagram? Ok, I’ll stop now), the value of their proposition is solid. Show targeted, meaningful content to people who want to see it and you can effectively engage with a mobile audience far outside your personal network.