Adverts will start to appear in Instagram feeds across Australia from today in a move that could run the risk of antagonising users of the previously ad-free photo sharing business.
Tourism Queensland, Vegemite, Ben & Jerry’s, Toyota, Flight Centre, Audi, Lenovo, McDonald’s and Philadelphia Cream Cheese have been named as the launch advertisers for the platform.
Instagram, recognising the potential backlash from users, insisted the brands have been “carefully selected” and are “already great members of the Instagram community”, and said ads will be marked with a sponsored label and “will look similar to other photos and videos users will see in their feed”.
“We’ll also make sure that the user has control. If they see an ad they don’t like, they’ll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn’t feel right,” Instagram said.
Advertising on the Facebook-owned site started late last year in the US, but has been slow to roll out internationally with Australia the third country to receive the facility after the UK in September.
Instagram insist the ads will be “seamlessly integrated” into the feeds and claimed they will be “as enjoyable and creative in much the same way engaging, high-quality ads are viewed when flipping through favourite magazines”.
Nevertheless, the move represents a risk to the business which said it needs advertising revenue in order to expand. At the Creative Fuel conference earlier this year Andy McKeon of The Creative Shop – Instagram urged creatives to think more about the visual elements to be successful on the site.
“Instagram has big ideas for the future, and part of making them happen is building Instagram into a sustainable business,” Instagram said in today’s release.
“Images are fast becoming a primary way that people communicate, in both the everyday and the spectacular,” said Amy Cole from Instagram market operations. “Our aim is to help brands create beautiful ads that feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos people already share and enjoy.”
Launch advertisers welcomed the move.
Darren O’Brien, President Cheese and Grocery Asia Pacific for Mondelez International said: “There’s no denying that social is part of the media ecosystem and if that’s where our loyalists are consuming content, brand participation is a natural extension of this.
“The Vegemite partnership with Instagram is an organic evolution of our approach to media – innovative and authentic – recognizing that this medium is at the forefront of driving brand engagement.”
Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) digital marketing director Chris Chambers described Instagram as “the perfect platform to showcase Queensland’s holiday credentials”.
Flight Centre head of customer experience Keith Stanley added: “Instagram is a wonderful avenue for us to engage with a community of passionate and aspiring travellers so we are very excited to be a part of this Australian-first.”