Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly discussed Instagram at yesterday's Q1 earnings call, and the takeaway is that big brands want more commercialization, but the Facebook-owned company is content with a growth strategy at the time being. That means no ads on Instagram...for now.
“They’re really doing well and growing quickly and that is the right focus for them,” Zuckerberg said. “They have the opportunity to…build community. I am really optimistic about the business and the opportunities."
He went on to say that the addition of ads could possibly hamper Instagram's growth. Instagram just surpassed 100 million monthly active users, and the photo-sharing app is growing at a faster rate than Facebook did at this time in its life.
According to Zuckerberg, it's not that Instagram isn't drawing any interest from businesses looking to advertise. "Big brands are approaching us," he said.
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This led to a mostly misguided outrage that Instagram was going to sell users' photos. What did deserve outrage was Instagram's tricky, vague, lawyerly language that attempted to describe a future ad product that didn't yet exist.
Co-founder Kevin Systrom ended up apologizing, saying they were wrong to put the cart before the horse.
"Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.”
Instagram will be properly monetized, it's inevitable. Facebook has already put way too much into the acquisition and Instagram is already such a powerful social channel. But for now, at least, it looks like Zuck is fine to let it grow.