A Cuppa Media: Instagram ads: Here in a flash

Written by Alex Veeneman

This past June, Instagram announced that it would be expanding advertising to users in the UK, Canada and Australia.

This past June, Instagram announced that it would be expanding advertising to users in the UK, Canada and Australia. When making that introduction, the Facebook owned app said ads would help allow it become more of a sustainable business.

This week, Instagram implemented ads for UK users. Will Guyatt, a spokesman for Instagram, in an email to Kettle, said advertisements, coming from brands including Waitrose, Channel 4, Starbucks, Rimmel London, Estee Lauder and Cadbury, were made live on 23 September.

Guyatt declined to elaborate on if other brands advertising would be made available.

No problem

Advertisements on Instagram will be photos, and can be liked and shared by users as well as hidden from their feeds, according to a report from The Guardian. The report adds that the UK is the most active country outside the US, with 6.9 million users of the app, founded in 2010, in the UK. Advertising was introduced in the United States in 2013.

Some users have said they didn’t mind the introduction to advertising.

“I think having these ads are no problem at all,” said Charlotte Corner, a user based in Leeds. “What I think is great is that Instagram allows you to switch off the adverts via the button at the bottom right.”

Indeed, Lindsay Dodgson, MA Science Journalism student at City University in London (and Kettle’s science editor), says there is some interest on how other businesses would do it.

“They’ll have to go down a relatively ‘arty’ route to be noticed so it might mix up my timeline a bit!” Dodgson said.

Matt Jackson, a presenter on Red Shift Radio (and also a Kettle writer), said he was happy with the ads, so long as Instagram would remain free.

“They’re businesses and want to make money, they carry on being free at the point of use by supplementing themselves with ad space,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day I’d rather see adverts than pay.”

To be user friendly or not user friendly?

Overall, the move to advertising was not surprising, says Sara Robinson, Managing Director of Cake Communications in Wales, and it can be successful so long as Instagram focuses on relevance.

“They had to monetise it eventually!” Robinson said. “I’ll be interested to see how brands use it and how users report their enjoyment of the platform being affected. Personally I won’t mind it as long as ads aren’t overused and fill up my stream, and as long as they’re targeted to my interests it may be useful.”

With the appearance of ads, the ball is now in Instagram’s court to keep users in the UK engaged. What role the ads will take, and the overall effect it would have on user experience, may likely dictate the future of the app and if users will either stay with it, or leave to find an app less cluttered.

In the end, Instagram’s overall success in the UK will be decided with the push of a single button – hopefully the install button listed in the options of an App Store near you.

What do you think? Are you happy with Instagram introducing advertising? Will you continue to use it? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: zenspa1 / Flickr