Instagram Stories hit 150 million users; to get skippable ads soon

By Arnab Mukherjee | Published on 12 Jan 2017
  • The 150 million users strong feature will no longer be a free playground

Instagram Stories hit 150 million users; to get skippable ads soon

For a long time, Instagram has been the hallowed ground of social media - without the big money affecting your experience. Not anymore, as Instagram has decided to step up its advertising game by putting mid-roll ads in Instagram stories, the five-month-old Snapchat inspired feature that now has more than 150 million active users. 

On Wednesday, the Facebook-owned social media company announced that video format advertisement will be introduced into Stories along with greater focus on providing insights to businesses. Also part of the announcement was the information that the ads will initially roll out on Instagram as a trial with 30 corporate partners and brands like Nike, Airbnb and McDonalds, to be eventually available to any advertiser across the globe.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and took almost 4 years to introduce advertisements on the platform. In fact, the introduction of ads to stories is perhaps one of the fastest introduction of ads to any new product for Facebook which typically takes the long and slow approach to monetizing new products.

According to Instagram, almost every user on the platform follows at least one business. In fact, a third of the stories viewed on the platform in the duration of its existence have been from businesses. Once the feature does open up to the 5,00,000 advertisers on the platform it can be expected that a lot of them will capitalise on this to showcase their products.

Facebook's monetization of its services has been long predicted

In their design, the ads have been kept very similar to regular Instagram stories, merely with the brand name attached to it. They will appear between two sections as you scroll through the story of a particular friend or profile that you follow.

If the numbers revealed by Snapchat in June are still to be believed, which can hardly be the case considering how rapidly Snapchat has been growing, the services are tied neck to neck in terms of user base. It is interesting to note that it took Snapchat 5 years and rejecting a bid from Facebook in 2013 to get where they are, while it merely took Instagram 5 months to become a direct competitor.

A primary advantage that Instagram has over Snapchat in this regard is the insights and precise targeting that will come from Facebook, based on the demographic and preference data that it has built over the years. But as we mentioned earlier, the numbers available from Snapchat are quite dated, and it would also be interesting to see how Snapchat reacts to such invasive attacks into its territory.

Facebook itself is reported to be introducing mid-roll ads on videos from publishers on its platform. While it might appear that Facebook has a long way to go in terms of monetizing videos compared to YouTube, the rate at which the social media giant is seeing success in the advertising scene would indicate otherwise.

Whatever might be the case, we, as users, are definitely headed towards an ad-riddled experience on almost every digital platform.

Arnab Mukherjee

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