Posted by Mark Grainger 16 Sep 2015

Instagram opens itself up to advertisers

instagram opens to advertisers

Instagram, the photo-led social app, has now opened up its advertising platform for all, meaning we’ll see more unsolicited posts in between the photos of scenic vistas, food and inspirational quotes that our friends share.

As much as our friends’ happy snaps can prove slightly irritating though, there’s no question that it’s mostly stuff you generally want to see. Instagram was originally set up as a self-curated gallery but the increasing presence of advertising is completely at odds with that ethos. As Tom Winbow, strategist at fellow creative agency Ralph, put it; “What’s the point of creating the ‘art gallery of the future’ when one in every ten picture frames you look at contain an ad for a sofa that you don’t want?”

The workings of these advertising models are too head-scratching to look at in any depth here, but the news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The app is, of course, now owned by Facebook, and the move is being touted as a way of seamlessly integrating dual usage between the platforms for advertisers and marketers. It’s sure to cause ripples of disproval amongst users who just want to flick through and see what their friends and various celebrities are up to though.

It may seem like a sudden shift for a platform that has, until recently, confounded brands, but the groundwork behind the announcement was being laid out months ago. Carousel adverts that allow companies to use multiple messages on one post are already commonplace, and Instagram recently made the high profile move to abandon its rigid square format. It might have seemed like a concession to users, but in fact the change simply meant that ad content could be more easily standardised across the main social media sites. Oddly though there’s still no word on multi-account logins, something community managers and agencies have been crying out for.

Facebook operates by making a ton of money from putting products under its users’ noses, but Instagram always felt different. It always seemed to be more creative, with brands like Waterstones excelling by highlighting individual stores and unique personality to earn its follower count.

It’s not hard to see how the idea of quicker cash turnover would prove alluring to both Facebook/Instagram and big brands but it is a shame that the app is so obviously encouraging advert proliferation over more organic reach gained by brands creating unique, engaging content to draw in users naturally.