Around the Horn: Instagram + Ads

Instagram just informed it’s users that it’s (about to fill) their feeds full of advertisements. Sitting around the table are a bunch of fake people experts waiting to go around the horn and give their different perspectives on the matter.

Whiney Instagram User @hipstercoffeeguy: I hate ads, they’re the worst. My current feed is beautifully curated to reflect my unique individualism, a never ending stream of forests, coffee and people wearing plaid. Putting ads from big box retailers is only gonna make the user experience terrible. *tear rolls down cheek*

The Fatalist: Everything gets ads eventually. One day we’ll die and they’ll sell ad space on our coffins so the funeral homes can have extra revenue streams.

A Guy Who Picked Up A Copy Of Vanity Fair In Line At A Grocery Store One Time: Kevin Systrom noted in his blog that the ads users see (at least initially) will resemble magazine ads. When I picked up that copy of Vanity Fair at Pavilions I was impressed with how stylish and vogue the ads were. Leafing through the magazine felt less like seeing a flashing banner ad on a website and more like seeing a trendy billboard. If the ads on Instagram resemble magazine advertisements, I won’t mind them too much.

Moderator: But what about the fact that you don’t get to choose which ads you see?

Matter-Of-Fact Girl: You never get to choose which ads you see. However, the fact that your feed is now not just people you chose to follow is somewhat disconcerting. It will make your feed feel less personal.

Alternative Suggestion Guy: What if Instagram used this new development to switch over to a freemium model? Shortly after they roll out ads to all users, they offer a premium version of the Instagram app that costs (for the sake of discussion) $30. The $30 premium Instagram app gets you no ads. Now let’s suppose half of Instagram’s 150 million active users buy the app. That’s $2.25 billion dollars in revenue right there! That would give consumers and a choice (ads or no ads) and Instagram would make money either way!

Real Talk Guy: Facebook is gonna get a lot of crap for this but real talk, Facebook is a business and when they purchase a startup for $1 billion dollars, that is an investment which needs to be repaid. Instead of hating on Facebook, users should ask themselves why Instagram chose to go with ads instead of the (above) proposed freemium model. You ready for some real real talk? The truth is that Facebook went with this type of business model because users (read: you) have shown that they aren’t willing to pay for what they want. The constant clamor for free apps, free services, free everything has made it so that app developers cannot make a sustainable living from selling apps for a profit (e.g. selling an app for $10 or $15). The only people willing to pay are advertisers, and that’s who developers turn to in order to make money. Users brought this upon themselves.

*crickets*

*more crickets*

Moderator: Well, erm, that’s about all the time we have today, tune in next tim–

*cuts to commercial*

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