Instagram's ad service is now as big a free-for-all as Facebook's has been for years.
On Tuesday, the photo-sharing network Facebook acquired in 2012 announced it's expanding its advertising service to all marketers, not just the carefully chosen few it's been working with since first rolling out ads in November 2013. Instagram is also testing an ad format that lets viewers click on a link to purchase a product or install an app.
Following its launch in 2009, Instagram became popular primarily with teens and young adults as it made it easy to post artistic-looking photos by applying one of the app's photo filters.
Though Instagram and Facebook held off on opening the advertising floodgates to the photo-sharing network, the move was inevitable. Sooner or later, all the major social networks are flipping the monetization switch to allow brands to pay for their users' eyeballs and potential dollars. Earlier on Tuesday, digital pinboard Pinterest unveiled a "Buy" button to bolster its monetization efforts after first rolling out ads last year.
The purchasing features on Instagram's new ad format is likely a welcome tool for many brands who have struggled in the past to convert their followers on the platform into buyers. Previously, brands had to paste shopping links in photos' description area, which isn't always as obvious of a call to action.
While Instagram's ads so far haven't caused any major complaints, this could soon change. The network has carefully worked with prestigious brands to release only high-quality ads amidst its users's streams of artistic photos, but that might soon shift as all calibers of brands start to push out ads.