On Friday (Nov. 1), Instagram ran its first paid advertisement, an ad for a Michael Kors watch, with mixed reviews. The ad featured a gold watch next to a plate of macaroons and, as of today, it has received over 229 thousand likes and over 1,700 comments — many of which are not particularly positive. Most of the negative comments are likely from non-followers, given the general sentiment is that they are unhappy about seeing a “sponsored” image in their feed.
Instagram first announced its move to start showing “sponsored” images and videos on its blog last month, letting U.S. users know that they may start to see “occasional” ads in their feed. “Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow,” wrote Instagram. “We’ll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.” The move to start offering sponsored posts is not terribly surprising considering Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, started pushing sponsored posts to user feeds last year.
According to AdAge, there are nine other brands that Instagram has lined up to produce ads, including Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Burberry, General Electric, Levi’s, Lexus, Macy’s, PayPal and Starwood.
Time will tell if Instagram users start to become generally accepting of the unsolicited images in their feed, however, it’s unlikely Instagram would abandon the idea given the potential growth for Facebook’s mobile revenue this could bring. After all, complaints about the sponsored posts in Facebook news feeds didn’t stop them!