While so much attention is on Twitter's IPO this week, Facebook is making moves on the social media advertising front. The company is getting closer to putting advertisements on Instagram.
It's about time for Facebook to monetize the photo (and more recently) video-sharing service. The social media giant snapped up Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, a move that some industry watchers deemed wild on CEO Mark Zuckerberg's part because he flew solo on the decision.
Facebook certainly has assets to advertise against. Instagram now has more than 150 million users around the world who are actively sharing their lives on the social service.
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"We have big ideas for the future, and part of making them happen is building Instagram into a sustainable business. In the next couple months, you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed if you're in the United States," the company said.
"Seeing photos and videos from brands you don't follow will be new, so we'll start slow," the company said. "We'll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community."
The company said the 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. Facebook want these ads to be "enjoyable and creative" in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.
"We'll also make sure you have control. If you see an ad you don't like, you'll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn't feel right," the company said. "We're relying on your input to help us continually improve the Instagram experience."
A Natural Progression
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the news. He told us this is a natural progression for the photo-sharing site.
"Whether or not Instagram was acquired it was going to have to make money some day," he said. "Facebook has now decided that day has come."
However, he added, the people running Instagram said they're going to "take it slowly" and figure out the best presentation and the best way to integrate ads into the user experience.
"We have yet to see what that will look like but it will be some sort of 'native' presentation in all likelihood," Sterling said. "Some users are bound to be upset but most people will accept that mobile and online ads are the price of a free service."