A lot more advertising is coming to Instagram, the New York Times reports, undoing the mostly ad-free experience that was one of the main things separating Instagram from the other major social networks. On Tuesday, Instagram announced plans to open its feed to all advertisers, which means you will soon be inundated with all sorts of brand-spam.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, which had previously remained pretty hands-off with putting Facebook-style ads in users’ Instagram feeds. There were only a few well-selected ads from brands with strong visual identities that didn’t disrupt the flow too much. But now everyone will show up whether you follow them or not, “from the local tattoo parlor to global food makers,” as the Times puts it.
Instagram will also begin experimenting with putting links in its feed, ending another one of its good features. Currently, Instagram doesn’t include links, which makes it self-contained and distinguishes it from the cacophonous “click me” parade of Facebook and Twitter, which are mostly link dumping grounds. Instagram doesn’t demand action and offers am uninterrupted scroll, which is probably one of the reasons why it has much higher engagement rates than Facebook and Twitter. The other reason is that it’s not subject to Facebook’s algorithmic whims. If you follow a user on Instagram, her posts will show up in your feed, which is not guaranteed on Facebook. Twitter is also an unfiltered feed, but feels like a deluge in a way that Instagram does not. Additionally, Twitter is plagued with a ton of terrible ads that make it not fun to use. Get ready to start seeing “follow Rand Paul!” spam on Instagram, too.
It was only a matter of time before Instagram made this announcement, because #brands crave young person engagement and Instagram users are “a generally young, passionate group who share, like, click and comment on posts at a much higher rate than users of other services, including Facebook,” according to the Times. Remember in The Social Network when Mark Zuckerberg says, “Facebook doesn’t do ads, because Facebook is cool?” That was quaint when the movie came out in 2010. Facebook stopped being cool a very long time ago. And now it’s bringing its uncoolness to its coolest property.
RIP, good Instagram. We’ll still use you, but we won’t like you as much. We’ll learn to live with more ads, as long as you don’t start putting autoplaying sound in your videos. Please, whatever you do, don’t let brands autoplay sound in their videos. Autoplay is the worst thing on the internet and everyone hates it.
(Image: Gallery Hip)