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Instagram’s first ad showed up today, so let’s all over-analyze it

Playtime’s over kids. After many rounds of warnings and little hints at what was to come, the first Instagram ad has made its debuted. And here it is.

It’s a momentous occasion for the app, which has found itself an extremely loyal user base that cherishes the app with more ferocity and seriousness than most platform’s see. The problem is that when changes as big as the introduction of ads come down the pipeline, reactions can be much more volatile. Of course that’s a happy problem for Instagram (and Facebook) to have.

But it also means since the hour of Instagram ads is now upon us, we’re (the tech media, devoted users, marketing types) going to analyze the hell out of it. So here we go.

1. My first thought is that this definitely was not taken with a smartphone – which personally is a bit of a hang-up for me. We already see brand’s products highlighted in all their Photoshopped glory in magazines, TV, on their Facebook pages – everywhere else. Instagram is supposed to be this medium where the playing field is level, and we’re all working with the same tools. This DSLR-taken image stands out not only because of the expensive watch and decorate dining, but because it was produced by a much more capable camera. It takes some of the fun out of what are supposed to be “natural” ads.

2. I bet that’s a really expensive watch. You probably shouldn’t leave it sitting around so cavalierly next to food and drink.

3. What, is this Pinterest? This probably has a lot to do with #1, but there’s something about the fancy cookies, the pastel color palette, the catchy caption that screams Pinterest to me. Which, if what you want is to convert social content into sales, is fine – those guys are on to something apparently.

4. I really hate macaroons. This photo is starting to gross me out.

5. These two comments are very telling and also very hilarious.

ig ad comments

6. Man, am I thrilled there isn’t a video ad of this. Those are apparently not showing up for a year. This is what comes to mind when I think of watch videos. That shows up on Instagram, I am out.

That’s it. There isn’t much to say about the photo because, as promised, it doesn’t really look that much different (save the better image quality) than anything else that shows up on Instagram. It’s whimsical, it’s aspirational, there’s a humblebragging element, and there’s food in it. But perhaps this is a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a tip-toe toward a totally Insta-ad future. Soak it in, everyone. There’s no going back.