Of course, Facebook didn’t fork out a billion bucks for Instagram to then just sit back in a comfy chair and gaze dreamily at it through the changing seasons. Au contraire! If Facebook consisted of nothing more than two eyes (a bizarre thought, admittedly) then upon them we’d see two enormous dollar signs every time the subject of Instagram came up. That’s right, there’s (lots and lots of) money to be made with the popular media-sharing service, and the company is finally gearing up to rake in the cash.
We’ve known for a while now that Facebook is intending to monetize Instagram, and on Sunday a Wall Street Journal report threw a little more light on the plans, with the company’s director of operations, Emily White, confirming ads will be coming to the service in the next 12 months.
“We want to make money in the long term, but we don’t have any short-term pressure,” White told the Journal.
White has overseen the expansion of Instagram’s workforce since joining the service from parent company Facebook earlier this year. Of the current 50 employees – up from 32 when the social networking giant acquired the app 18 months ago – four are helping to build relationships with brands already using Instagram to promote their businesses.
“Theoretically, [Instagram] could be making hundreds of millions of dollars today,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wiesser told the Journal, “But they would need a big sales force and they would risk polluting the environment.”
Indeed, Instagram needs to find a way to incorporate ads without making them too intrusive, a situation certain to upset fans of the app. The company has already incurred the wrath of users once with a controversial change in its terms of service; it won’t want to go through all that again.
The news that ads will be appearing on Instagram in the next year comes at the same time as the service, which launched in 2010, announced it now has more than 150 million users.
“As the community continues to grow, it’s becoming more global too — now more than 60 percent of you are from outside the United States,” the company said in a blog post detailing the news.
It added, “To the 50 million of you who’ve joined in the last six months, welcome. And from our team to all 150 million of you, thank you for making Instagram great. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create next.”
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