Brace yourself. Ads are coming to Instagram.
The company's director of business operations, Emily White, told the Wall Street Journal that the popular photo-sharing service should be ready to start selling ads by the end of this year.
White told The Journal's Evelyn Rusli that her team is looking to place ads in a few corners of the app: In the Discover function, where members can find popular photos and videos, and in search results.
The move should not be surprising. When Instagram announced it was adding video capabilities in June, it conveniently capped the length of videos at 15 seconds -- the normal runtime of most television ads. That same month White discussed how she wanted to protect Instragram, which is owned by Facebook, from ad backlash, telling Fast Company:
Despite being a newbie, White is already protective of the Instagram experience. "If people see super spammy ads in their feeds," she says, "it's going to be destructive." She's also started parroting [Instagram CEO Kevin] Systrom's belief that there's no reason the advertising can't be as luscious as the content, saying that Vogue magazine, a rich, glossy publication where that virtue is certainly evident, could be its model.
Every major advertising addition to Facebook or Twitter has generated negative reaction, but Instagram's case is unique, which may explain the extra attention on style. Its cohort of amateur artisans, which numbered 150 million as of Sunday, seem acutely sensitive to corporate gestures. In December, a seemingly mild change to Instagram's terms of service that let Instagram use people's photos and likenesses in ads kickstarted a grassroots campaign that seems poised to get novice photographers to quit the app en masse. Co-founder Kevin Systrom was eventually forced to alter some of the document's language.
But eight months after those terms of service went into effect, that mass exodus has yet to happen. Instagram has grown 50 percent since February. It seems that for every person compelled to flee the service, many, many more don't know or care enough to leave.
Even if there's backlash against Instagram's ads, its parent Facebook has proven adapt at inserting ads into its own network while retaining members. White's interview in The Journal doesn't mention any of the particularly invasive types on ads, like Facebook's infamous "Sponsored Stories" where a members' likenesses were used to promote a brand. It doesn't even mention the possibility of ads in Instagram's main feed.
The Instagram community may not even be Systrom and White's biggest hurdle. It may be the fact that de facto ads are already thriving on Instagram. Brands like Nike, Starbucks, Victoria's Secret and Forever 21 already have million-person followings -- all without paying a cent for ad space.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Hey! That's Mine
One of the app's ultimate sins? Copycating. Make your own content and respect your fellow Instagrammers. It's not polite (or entirely legal) to take a screen shot of another person's photo, change the filter, and pretend like it's your own.
Avoid The Cliche
There are things you're going to want to snap a picture of -- cats, the shoes on your feet, greasy food, an artsy shot of nothing, etc. -- but beware of falling into an Instagram cliche. Followers don't mind these pictures every once in awhile, but give your fans something new to keep them coming back for more.
We Don't Want To See That
Some pictures are <a href="http://instagr.am/legal/terms/" target="_hplink">best left unposted</a>. You would think this would go without saying, but unfortunately it must be mentioned. Drugs, porn, pictures of you on the toilet, pictures of your "friends" on the toilet, a broken toenail: These are all perfect examples of what followers just don't want to see. (If we can't see it, then it's not real. So please don't let us see it.)
Beware The Rapid Fire
It's totally fine to take several photos and upload them to Instagram the same day. You're crossing a line, however, when you don't use Instagram for a week and suddenly spam your followers with 14 uploads in a matter of six minutes.
Hashtags help Instagramers categorize pictures, or are used ironically much like on Twitter. For example, if you take a picture of the Statue of Liberty, a proper hashtag might be #nyc. But drowning a photo in irrelevant hashtags will only frustrate viewers. There is such a thing as #toomuch.
Show A Little 'Selfie' Control
Pictures you take of yourself might be fine, but too many "selfie" shots annoy followers. Who wants to see three or four Instagrams of a face in different positions? Refrain from taking MySpace pictures and flip that camera around on someone else occasionally.
Be My Friend
It's okay to want more followers on your social media sites, but isn't it a little desperate to type "please follow me!" in the comments box of pictures and throughout your "About Me" section? Create great content, regularly participate with other users, and you are guaranteed to earn followers without begging for them.
Your children are adorable, and who wouldn't love that dog always featured on your Instagram? But similar to selfie shots, these objects of your affection may begin to grow old for your friends... particularly if you upload 16 photos of little Sue daily. Sometimes one picture says it all.
Like, Like, Follow, Unfollow
If you "like" a photo, then it's assumed you found that picture to be aesthetically pleasing. What is not assumed is that you expected a "like" or a "follow" in return. And don't even think about unfollowing someone because they didn't follow you back. This sort of middle school behavior is not appreciated. "Like" worthy pictures for the sake of liking them.
Don't Draw Something
Your followers want to see your beautiful or surprising photos. What they don't want to see is something that won't make sense to them, like an inside joke that you drew about a donkey and a pancake. In this case, it's best to just keep your doodles to yourself.
The Catch-All Rule
Here are Instagram words to live by: Document life, show off your quirky moments, and tell a vibrant, filter-filled story. Post those pics you're proud of, and your followers will probably "like" them, too.