Instagram Experiments with Mandatory Ads for Users

June 7, 2024 Posted by Liam Walsh Round-Up 0 thoughts on “Instagram Experiments with Mandatory Ads for Users”
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Liam Walsh

Liam is a Co-Director at Intelligency and heads up the agency's Digital Intelligence & Paid Social activity. Over the last decade, he has worked with brands from the world of sports such as Premier League clubs to entertainment such as Channel 4 and Disney.

Instagram has rolled out new ad formats that prevent users from skipping. Currently, users are able to scroll or flick past an ad they don’t want to see whether it is a post, story or reel. However, the new feature called “ad break” will prohibit such skipping.

How will this impact Instagram’s user experience?

Being able to swipe or scroll past an ad has allowed users to experience a comfortable and quick UX whilst on the app. The expectation is that these ‘ad breaks’ will appear with a timer, which will count down to zero before users can continue with their journey. A similar system is currently employed by YouTube with their non-skippable and 5-20-second ads.

Why is Instagram testing this?

An official press release from Meta has stated that viewers, may on occasion, must “view an ad before you can keep browsing”. Meta further stated that the move was in part motivated by a desire to find solutions in a constantly evolving and dynamic ecosystem.

However, increasing ad revenue and results for advertisers is likely the core concern here.  Meta is keen to test new ad formats which will generate greater rewards for brands. Conversely, users have pushed back claiming that the company is sacrificing UX for money, with some even threatening to boycott the platform.

Is this a new concept?

Whilst non-skippable ads are a first for Meta, other competitors in the space have promoted these formats before. As previously mentioned, YouTube has been pushing non-skippable formats for years, as do many online publishers. Meanwhile, streaming services such as Netflix offer a tiered payment system for customers, whereby cheaper subscriptions require users to watch ads.

Whether this new trial will be a success is still unknown but a recent study from TikTok found that 70% of viewers were more engaged with brands and ads if they weren’t forced to watch their content.

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