Instagram is adding more ads to the platform including in the Explore tab.
In a move that’s likely to be extremely unpopular with users, Meta announced that even more ads will start appearing in Instagram feeds this month. Meta’s investors undoubtedly welcome the news as the social media giant’s quarterly revenue dipped for the first time ever in the second quarter of 2022. The increase in ads comes at the same time as a hiring freeze and other attempts to cut costs as TikTok lures younger users away from Instagram.
The new ads are scheduled to appear in multiple places on the popular photo-sharing app—and just in time for the holiday shopping season to start. On Explore home—the grid people see when they first click the Explore tab—targeted ads will now appear to reach people at the earliest point of their Instagram visit. From the advertiser’s perspective, this is a great way to get their products in front of people quickly.
Ads that will be inserted in the profile feed are still in the testing phase and will appear when users click on another account’s post. Instagram is considering making these ads monetization opportunities for the content creators of the profile where they pop up. Multi-advertiser carousels featuring similar products will also now appear below ads after users engage with them by clicking or making a purchase.
Instagram is also trying out immersive, augmented reality (AR) advertising powered by Spark AR. These interactive ads will appear in both the user’s feed and Instagram Stories (a slideshow-style collection of images and videos that vanish instead of becoming a permanent part of a user’s feed). Advertisers might use these ads to allow potential buyers the opportunity to get a closer look at a new car, or perhaps test virtual furniture in their homes.
Meta is also exploring new formats for advertising on Facebook and Instagram Reels. Reels are short videos that are Meta’s answer to TikTok’s popular format which showcases brief videos lasting anywhere from 15 seconds to three minutes long. The “post-loop” ads for Reels will last between four and 10 seconds and can be skipped—an option not always available for online advertising.
How these new ads will impact the user experience remains to be seen, and obtaining feedback is perhaps the reason that most are still in beta testing. As a company spokesperson told Engadget, “The number of ads across the platform varies based on how people use Instagram. We closely monitor people’s sentiment — both for ads and overall commerciality.”
Meta earns most of its revenue from selling ad space on its family of sites, comprised of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. Naturally, the larger Meta’s user base, the more attractive it is to marketers and the more revenue it generates through ad sales. Meta reported 3.7 billion monthly active users for 2022’s second quarter, which matched analysts’ predictions.
One of the problems that Meta is facing is linked to changes Apple made to protect user privacy and data collection. The changes were meant to stop app developers from collecting data without permission so they could increase ad revenue by displaying highly targeted, predatory ads. Although users thought they finally had greater privacy, Meta was later prosecuted for continuing to track iPhone users even after they opted out.