Instagram reveals look and feel of advertising content

Social media site gives users the option of liking and providing feedback on sponsored video and photo content

Instagram has revealed the look and feel of forthcoming ads across its photo sharing website as part of its cautious approach to rolling out advertising to its user community.

Instagram announced in early October that ads were on the way and would start appearing in users feeds in the US before the end of the year. The company stressed the ads, which will be posted as both photos and videos, are designed to match the natural feel of the site and be from brands that users do not follow.

In a post on its website, the company revealed ads will feature a sponsored label and icon to make them easily identifiable to users. Ads will be served based on who a user follows on Instagram, photos and videos they like, and their interests and information from Facebook, Instagram’s owner.

By clicking on three dots at the bottom right corner of sponsored content, users have the option of hiding the photo or video and providing feedback about ads that were less interesting or unappealing. All users will see ads, the company said, regardless of whether they’re Facebook users or not. Instagram was acquired by Facebook for US$521m last year.

Instagram also announced a list of brands that have signed up for the first wave of advertising including adidas, Lexus, Levi’s, PayPal and Burberry. The company said it plans to restrict ads to select partners in the short term while it refines the style of ads on its site. It also reiterated that users will remain in control of their own content.

US users will see a sample ad from Instagram this week in a bid to help them familiarise with the look and feel of sponsored content, the company added.

Instagram claims to have 150 million users worldwide. The move to monetise its online services comes as Facebook also ramps up its advertising efforts and tap into the massive mobile user market.

However like Instagram, Facebook is also trying to improve user acceptance of sponsored content, and recently changed its algorithms to find out what ads users will like, even if it means a dip in ad exposure for some marketers.

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