A few weeks ago, Instagram (owned by Facebook) shared its plans to launch sponsored content on the platform as a way for advertisers to introduce pictures and video clips into users' streams, for those who don't currently follow them. It is expected that account holders within the United States will start to see these advertisements by early November from a hand-selected group of companies. Instagram has announced these will include brands who already have a presence on the channel, such as: Levis, Ben and Jerrys and PayPal.
These images (or videos) will look very similar to content from people you follow, except in the top corner there will be a labeling of "sponsored" where the timestamp typically is. Below is an example from Instagram of how ads will appear:
Instagram and Facebook are pretty well versed in user behavior, to include their likes and dislikes. Therefore, it can be assumed much of this intelligence and insight will be used to help advertisers get their visual message in front of a targeted audience. For now, all Instagram users (even those without a Facebook account) will see these sponsored ads, except those under 18 years of age.
* Instagram allows users to open accounts at 13 years of age.
It will be interesting to watch how some of the initial advertisers use the channel to promote their brand – although given who they have identified, we can expect to see very high quality, professional photography. Where the real opportunities could lie, are for smaller businesses and vendors, with a story to tell visually, using non-staged photography. Instagram has suggested the roll-out will be slow, as to not turn-off their users, so we may have to wait a while before the program is opened up to everyone.