Jon Russell reporting for The Next Web:
Instagram announced earlier this month that it will begin serving in-feed advertising before the end of the year, and the Facebook-owned photo and video app has made a subtle, but important, change after it removed the option to switch off autoplay for videos on iOS.
I don’t know what to say. Do I like that Instagram is about to be Facebook-ized? No. But, the fact of the matter is, that they weren’t profitable, and now they have to be. Is there a better way? Maybe. But what is it? I have no idea.
Here’s what I do know: I hate quotes like this, where Instagram says they want “these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.” Guess what? Everyone, everyone, flips right past them.
But, what are they supposed to do? If they offered some type of subscription, it wouldn’t make enough to sustain the business. If they only allowed paying customers, they’d loose their core user base of adolescents and young adults. They could offer filters as an in-app purchase, like Favd does, but I have no idea whether that would make enough.
So, as much as it bothers me that they’ve gone the advertising route, I can’t help but empathize. I myself put ads on this site, and on my podcast. It’s easy, it often pays the bills, and sometimes more.
What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable? — A really great read, on the cycle that social networks go through.