Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom released a few details about their plan for how to do advertising:
“I think the advertising experience is going to be extremely engaging,” Systrom said. “It’s much harder with text,” but Instagram offers photos, and brand names such as Audi, Kate Spade, and Burberry have joined Instagram.
“They’re sharing pictures of products and the message of their brands. That shows we’re at the beginning of what will come with brands,” he said.
As Marco points out, this likely means they’ll insert photos from companies—advertisements—in our timelines. I’m not sure how they’ll do it otherwise.
This could be an interesting form of advertisement, if advertisers use it as such—rather than show straight print-like adverts, they could use it to tell stories about their products. Audi could use it to take well-done photos of their cars in use, ones that fit with Instagram’s purpose, to convey a more general feel of what Audi is to viewers, rather than simply try to convey specific information (e.g., “best-in-class safety!”). Of course, other forms of advertisements could be used in more interesting ways—print adverts in particular—but they tend not to be.
Advertisements could be done in an interesting and effective way, but not only is it likely advertisers won’t use it as such, but the entire concept walks a fine line. Delivering ads within someone’s timeline—a stream of photos from users the user decided to follow, and thus is inherently private—will likely end up feeling invasive. I wonder, too, if Instagram will target ads to users. What personal information do they have to target ads? And if they don’t, that makes the venture a lot less likely to be successful.