We all knew it was coming — it was just a matter of how soon, and it looks like the time is now. Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) popular Instagram app announced Thursday that it is preparing to start advertising in its users’ Instagram feeds. The app explained in an official blog post that users will start to see an occasional ad in their feeds if they’re living in the United States, but promised, “we’ll start slow,” and maintained, “We’ll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.”
The note to users was kept short and sweet, and didn’t offer many details except the assurance that any new ads will still be as creative and tasteful as the ones people find in their “favorite magazine.” Instagram concluded the post with the additional explanation that if users see an ad they don’t like, they can simply hide it and provide negative feedback, and also assured them that they still own their own photos and videos — an anxiety that Instagram recognizes thanks to the clamor its older brother, Facebook, received when its “friends” understood the site’s real privacy policies.
The blog post appeared well-received, drawing over 350 likes less than 20 hours after of its publication, but it will be interesting to witness whether Instagram users offer the same cooperation when the ads become less few and far between, and infringe on Instagram’s once clean place.
We learned earlier in September that the brains behind the Instagram operation belong to 35-year-old Emily White, the director of business operations for the smartphone app. White has been in charge of jump-starting Instagram’s monetary success, but she faces many hurdles as she works to please the app’s 150 million monthly active users and the advertisers she is determined to woo.
Instagram has yet to make a dime off of its operations, and that is a reality that the popular app desperately needs to change. However, in doing so, the 50-person company has to keep in mind its users, the millenials, and their taste for the app’s artsy filters and “cool” design. Thus, making any drastic advertising changes too dramatically could be damming for the app, and White is working to avoid that. That’s why Instagram is now reportedly taking it slow, trying to tiptoe its way around users’ feeds. The ads will start one by one, and will be sensitive to user complaints, but White and her team will still keep in mind that the app is a business, and one that needs to make money.
Luckily for White, she has a significant deal of experience — having first worked at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and then at Facebook — and she also has strong team backing with powerful Facebook mentors like Sheryl Sandberg; David Fischer, vice president of business and marketing partnerships; and Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing. If anyone can keep Instagram “cool” and still make it financially successful, the team believes that White can, and now Instagram users will be the first to give her a shot.