UK users of Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo sharing app, will now begin seeing sponsored content — i.e. ads — show up in their Instagram feeds. Advertising on Instagram was first introduced in the U.S. all the way back in September 2013, but, until today, Brits have escaped the invasion of sponsored content, though, of course, plenty of brands have already set up shop on the photo social network, including running various engagement marketing campaigns.
UK Instagram users will start seeing sponsored image and video-based content from what the company describes as “carefully selected brands”, and at launch these include Starbucks, Cadbury, Channel 4, Rimmel London, Sony Music, Estée Lauder and Waitrose. It’s also keen to stress that the roll out of ads, which not all of Instagram’s passionate users will welcome, is part of making the photo sharing app a sustainable business in its own right, ensuring it can invest in future features. In other words, if you thought Instagram in the UK would live off its rich parent for ever, think again.
To that end, Instagram says ads will be rolled out slowly, with a 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.” Furthermore, the ads are intended to “seamlessly” integrate with the existing Instagram experience (i.e. so-called native ads), and are being likened to magazine-style advertising.
The Starbucks ad, for example, features a professional photo of a person holding a Starbucks take-out cup with the caption ‘Best hand warmer ever’.
Instagram also notes it now has more than 200 million monthly active users, and that 65 percent are outside of the U.S., with the UK in the top five of Instagram usage.