We knew it was coming — the free ride couldn't last forever. Instagram announced Thursday that it would begin rolling out in-stream ads — slowly, of course, so as not to scare off its millions of users.
In a blog post entitled "Instagram as a Growing Business," the company wrote:
In the next couple months, you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed if you’re in the United States ... 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. 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.
So don't be surprised when an artfully composed picture of a Subway sandwich pops up in your feed — not that you would be, considering the volume of #whatsforlunch pics already there. Luckily, if you don't like an ad, you can hide it and give a critique — of the content, or the composition.
Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook in 2012 in a deal worth over $1 billion was careful to add that this addition doesn't signalize some larger change in how the service works. You still "own" your photos, and the app will work as before — but you may periodically be reminded to Eat Fresh.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.