Monetizing Instagram – The Plan for Ads

Facing pressure from now-corporate parent Facebook, Instagram is moving forward with plans to start monetizing their service. The plan revolves, predictably enough, around embedding targeted advertisements in users feeds. The platform will roll out within the next year.

The person leading this charge is 35 year old Emily White, the new Director of Business Operations who came from Facebook after the acquisition. According to the Wall Street Journal, she’s led a new internal assessment of their services and begin establishing an analytics team. The plan highlights the new priorities of parent-company Facebook, which, in addition to keeping rivals such as Twitter at bay, must now appease shareholders as well.

Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion last year, although the company has never made a profit. Instagram’s active userbase is around 150 million, and is still growing steadily. From last year, they added roughly 25 million more users.

Perhaps even more important than the number however, is the demographic makeup of Instagram users. The service is used primarily by teens and young adults, a coveted market for brands. Indeed, most large brands are already using Instragram in hopes of attracting followers, making Ms. White’s offering of premium-placed ad spots an even easier sell.

Whether or not Instagram’s userbase will be put off by the ads remains unclear. Services such as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter have all succeeded in offering free services with the caveat of ads. One might even ask if most Instagram users will even notice them – after all, plenty of users posts are effectively ads already.

Ms. White has at least a few companies interested. Last week she held with meetings Ford, William-Sonoma, and Coca-Cola.


Born in Alaska, Cameron is now a resident of Nashville, TN. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a degree in English and Political Science. He enjoys following emerging technology and its impact on business. Follow Cameron on Google+, or email him with any questions or comments.

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