According to a company statement, the ads will slowly trickle into U.S.-based users' feeds and will promote brands you may not follow. These ads, which will be both image- and video-based, will first come from only a handful of trusted brands.
"Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands," read Instagram's blog post. "We 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."
Instagram, which celebrated its third birthday last week, was quick to note that you will have some control over the ads you see: If it shows you an ad you don't like, you can hide it and provide feedback about what you didn't like.
Instagram also noted that the inclusion of ads won't affect the ownership of your photos and videos. Last year, Instagram made a change to the app's terms of service that implied that user content could be turned into ads. The company later clarified the language, saying that it did not plan to sell your photos.
Instagram did not say how much its ads would sell for, nor did it disclose any other details about how the initiative would work.
Instagram's ad announcement comes sooner than many anticipated. Last month, Instagram COO Emily White said the company was taking its time to figure out a way to integrate marketing without jeopardizing Instagram's "cool factor." "We want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure," she said, adding that ads would likely come in the next year.
Facebook, which acquired Instagram in April 2012 for $1 billion, announced last month that it, too, was testing a new video feature with a small group of users. When users pause on a video while scrolling through their news feed, the video automatically starts playing. This is similar to how videos on Instagram play.
Because of Instagram's tight affiliation with Facebook, it's likely that Facebook is using Instagram as a testing ground for its future mobile video ads. In July, reports swirled that Facebook planned to sell TV-style ads that would appear in users' news feeds for between $ 1 million and $2.5 million a day. The ads, which are said to be 15 seconds long -- just like Instagram's -- would be targeted to users' interests and demographics. Reports said that Facebook users could expect to see video ads in their news feed up to three times a day.
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