Whose (Instagram) ad is it anyway?


A few days ago when Instagram launched a limited set of ads on their platform, there was some negative feedback from its members, though later Kevin Systrom told me on stage at our Roadmap 2013 conference that things were actually going remarkably well from an advertising standpoint. However, soon, Instagram might come in competition for advertisers attention with none other that its own users.

I have started noticing more and more that Instagram power accounts — well-known Instagrammers with tens of thousands of followers – are pushing their own form advertising. Some are putting hashtags of commercial products (see image above) such as Sony’s(s sne) QX-100 lens camera.

There are others who have hashtagged Samsung products, cars and what not. It is not clear what rules will Instagram have towards these unofficial commercial messages, but they do look remarkably similar in styling to the ads that Instagram has received from say Michael Kors. It would be interesting to see how Instagram deals with all these community-powered commercial movement.

With over 200 million users and nearly 50 million photos being submitted on the platform everyday, I say there is going enough gravy to go around for everyone including the company.

Unlike the doubters, I am actually fine with Instagram advertising as long as the company does what it has promised — be thoughtful, and surgically use technology and data to meet its commercial goals and not spoil the overall experience. Instagram ads — and to some extent the commercials created by individual stars — to me show a new direction for brand advertising, especially as most of our attention is shepherded from magazines, newspapers, radio and television to these small screens.

PS: If you want to watch, Kevin and I talk about Instagram, visit our YouTube channel where you will find not only that, but a whole bunch of videos from Roadmap.