Friday, November 1, 2013

Lets talk about Ads on Instagram

A week ago, Instagram announced that they are going to start advertising on the platform via sponsored posts. For those who are curious, sponsored posts are rather new methodology to advertise where some particular post will barge in while you are doing your normal routine in the app and everything looks normal, except somebody paid for it.

These kinds of sponsored stories/ posts are used by all kinds of web services to monetize. Facebook uses 'Suggested Page' or 'Suggested Post' where a page or their status update will appear on your newsfeed to lure you 'like' them. People pay for that thing to be forced to your newsfeed. Similarly, Twitter uses 'Promoted Tweets', which are tweets which appear on your timeline or hashtag page. These posts are clearly marked so as you'd know that they are 'ads'.

Advertising has evolved a lot in last few years. Oh, it's still evolving. Companies and researchers have been trying hard to figure out which kinds of ads you like, when is the right time to show you that gym ad but that is another story.

Let's come back to Instagram. Instagram has finally decided to resort to advertising. They could pop an ad every now and then just like those in mobile games and other apps you play with but they decided to go with cleaner route. The cleaner advertising also happens to be more profitable one. So, instead of showing you those little pop-ups which often are about another app, you will be served with suggested posts right on your timeline (I guess that's the word).

Facebook already uses 'Suggested Pages' ads and so, it makes more sense for them to choose the same monetization plan, especially in case of a mobile-only app.

Are people happy with it? People seem to be never in favor of any advertising. Be it Television, cellphone, the common public approach is more or less the same. Adophobia is a very common disease these days.

Instagram today published it's first sponsored post and response has been quite the same. Have a look at some comments :

Comments suggest that ads on Instagram are totally unwelcome by the people who love the app. In spite of that, picture has managed to get 173k likes in just 8 hours. This many people took time to like the photo. Imagine, the number of people this ad actually reached in such short time. Instagram is golden now.

Will this move make people deter? I say a big percentage of people do not want to pay for such services. At least, not yet. However, they do want it to be ad-free. Ad-free and Free. You get the point. World is full of mean people. No, I do not want to pay for uploading fancy pictures of the things nobody cares about, for the world to see and 'like' them. Yes, I am comfortable with suggested posts or ads showing up on my stream because guess what? They invested in the app to reap the profits some day.

Is advertising evil? If kept simple, No. Things start getting messy when companies try to serve you better ads. Better ads are aimed at greater conversion rates and hence making the platform favorite for advertisers. Facebook recently started testing a technology that would analyze your interests on the basis of your cursor movements. This means if I stop moving my cursor at Safari photos, I would be served with cheap getaways ad right away. To take this a step forward, Google is testing pay-per-gaze system for advertisers.

This all chaos which leads me to think that Internet giants' servers know more about me than I know myself, might be a reason why people generally hate ads. Can you imagine the day when everybody would want to pay for web services just so they can opt out of ads and prying algorithms? I guess we are heading there.

Takeaway : Keep Calm And Scroll On.

Also Read : How to keep Google from using your photo and name on ads.