3 Reasons Whining About Instagram Ads Is Pointless [Op-Ed]


Instagram announced yesterday that ads are coming “in the next couple months,” and will only be seen by users in the United States.

In a move that surprised no one, people were quick to share their thoughts on the matter:

Pack your bags folks, because the end is near. The days of overly cropped filtered photos on Instagram are becoming numbered, and will soon be replaced by blank feeds.

Well, probably not, and here’s three reasons complaints are invalid:

Your Selfies Don’t Pay The Bills

I hate to break it to you, but selfies or photos of that lunch you just ate which no one cares about, do not magically manifest money out of thin air. Every site, every social network, has bills or operating expenses.

With Instagram having 150 million monthly active users, all that activity adds up. Services, especially those that are free, cannot remain without some source of income forever. We would all love it if ads did not exist, but they exist so the sites and services we love can also exist.

And just because Facebook bought Instagram back in April 2012, does not makes it Facebook’s fault that ads are coming. Sure, Facebook was a driving force, but even if Instagram wasn’t acquired, it would only have been a matter of time before investors started demanding a return on their investment.

Social Networks Are A Business, Not A Playground

We all use social networks differently, and it’s safe to say that many of us use them for fun. Unfortunately, social networks are like any business, just disguised in a different package. There are employees, expenses, profits, product development, marketing, sales teams and so on.

If People Enjoy The App, 99% Will Keep Using It

Remember when Facebook started rolling out more ads, and introduced Sponsored Posts in the News Feed? Millions of users voiced their disgust, and said they were going to quit. Looking at the social network’s most recent numbers of 1.15 billion monthly active users, it clearly had a huge impact.

Going even further back, a campaign was created in the Spring of 2010 after privacy concerns. Called “Quit Facebook Day,” users could pledge to delete their accounts all on the same day, May 31. That was also a huge success with 40,686 users pledging, or about 0.008 percent of its total users at the time.

The reality is, people who enjoy Instagram, and get a lot of value from it, will keep using it. Ads may not be welcomed with open arms, but many have accepted ads as a necessary part to keep our favorite free services, well, free.

However, when given the option, a paid ad-free version could be compelling:

Highly unlikely, but compelling. If you truly can’t stand the idea of Instagram ads, you could always post your photos through the Twitter app instead, which also offers filters.

But wait…Twitter has ads, too.

Mike Stenger

Lover of technology, Mike often makes jokes that nobody laughs at.


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