Photo sharing app Instagram is arguably one of the coolest and fastest growing applications ever. In two short years, it has gone from nothing to amassing millions of users, eventually being acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. However, while it’s cool for founder Kevin Systrom to focus on user experience, Instagram will have to validate its worth by making a profit, and soon. As reported by gizmodo.com:
“While Instagram is currently ad-free, that looks set to change. Emily White, Instagram’s director of business operations, The Wall Street Journal, which explains that ‘Ms. White said it should be ready to begin selling ads within the next year.’ It’s the first explicit recognition that the photo-sharing network will one day feature ads.
“There’s no set date for ads being rolled out, and for that matter it remains unclear how they’ll make their way into user feeds, too. Indeed, White pointed out to the Journal that the challenge is to ‘figure out how to integrate marketing without jeopardizing Instagram’s cool factor.'”
The cool factor is definitely something to consider when introducing ads. Emily White migrated from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, so she’s aware of the importance of user experience. She previously worked closely with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and hopes to build a bond with Kevin Systrom, analogous to that of Sandberg and Zuckerberg.
Although there’s no timetable for the ads, they will probably be rolled out with Facebook’s 15-second video spots announced a few months ago. Instagram says it has already identified a host of brands as potential advertisers. But do those brands really need to pay for advertising?
Instagram recently updated the application to allow users to upload video. Before the update, people could only use video shot in the application itself, but with the introduction of uploads, big brands are already uploading professional 15-second brand content. So why would they pay for something they’re already getting for free?
It will be interesting to see how this transition unfolds. Instagram certainly has the right team in place to make it happen.