Navigate the New Landscape: Unskippable Ads on Instagram

With the never-ending battle of social media juggernauts finding ways to monetise their sites without alienating their users, it seems that Instagram is taking a brave new step for the social media world with its eye on unskippable ads to feature. This is a complete deviation from the traditional use of content that users are used to, and could set a new benchmark for advertisement on social media. Let’s dive into how Instagram is experimenting with unskippable ads in its app, and what it means for the future of advertising for social media!


It was bad enough when Instagram began testing ‘ad breaks’ as you swiped through the app earlier this year; you could usually get around an ad by swiping up instantly. These new ad breaks stop you in your tracks, forcing you to watch a full ad before continuing. It’s a bonkers move – although a friend of mine, the comedian Dan Levy, who had his Instagram account hacked, found it somewhat amusing. I incurred the full wrath of Instagram.

Understanding Instagram's Ad Breaks

The new, a few seconds long, ad breaks are intended to be a mandatory stop in the scrolling journey, immediately placing the promotional content in the foreground. Soon spotted by a few users, the deployment has started to cause some buzz online, especially on Reddit, where people share their personal experiences with these unskittable pauses.


‘We will continue to experiment with new ad formats that deliver meaningful value to advertisers,’ a Meta spokesperson said in response to questions I sent on this soda-burp. So, for now, ad breaks are still in test mode. But they may just be the best way to make an impact if you want to get noticed by Instagram’s billion-plus active users.

Instagram versus YouTube: A Comparative Analysis

If Instagram does decide to officially add ad breaks to its service, it will be following YouTube’s lead of sticking with unskippable ads for its free-tier users. So we might be able to get an answer to my question more quickly than I anticipated. If ad breaks work on Instagram, then the other big social media platforms will undoubtedly dream of doing the same. But so far, at least, Instagram has said nothing about a service that would let users pay for an ad-free experience. YouTube has one if you live in Europe.

The Community's Verdict: To Pay or Not to Pay?

This begs the question: would Instagram’s fans be willing to pay a monthly fee for an ad-free experience similar to YouTube’s premium subscription service? As the Instagram backlash over its pop-up ad-breaks test plays out, the possibility of a paid model for the service remains very much up in the air.

Instagram's Recent Innovations: Beyond Ad Breaks

But Instagram isn’t leaving it at unavoidable ad content. Instead, it’s expanding the use of its existing Notes feature by adding support for likes, mentions and prompts, and implementing the Limits tool to ensure the safety of its users by enabling teens to increase the protection on their accounts from harassment. Instagram is also introducing a feature whereby users of both Instagram and Threads can mute political posts on their timeline – indicative of the fact that Facebook and Instagram are clearly not averse to playing in more than one realm at a time as they continue to figure out new sources of revenue.

What's Next for Instagram and Its Ad Strategy?

Instagram’s unskippable ads move is part of a larger chess game between it and other platforms as they try desperately to stay ahead in the innovation and user-engagement game. It may not stick around for good. But it’s just one of many in Instagram’s move repertoire: the company will continue to change its service in ways that cater to advertisers while still keeping users happy.

Unraveling the Essence of the "MOVE"

Instagram’s introduction of unskippable ads is definitely a ‘bold move’. It could ultimately reshape engagement metrics – and how users engage with the platform – by forcing them to consume ads to the very end. Advertisers would then see their promoted content be viewed by a more captive audience, which would probably spell higher engagement rates. Yet it would also toe a tightrope between monetisation and user delight, its success at straddling the gap vital for Instagram as it evolves to stay true to its core user experience but also to develop and profit in new ways. For now, it’s too early to see what the broader implications for digital advertising and the social media user experience are when Instagram rolls out these unskittable ads widely. But one thing is clear: Instagram’s move represents the beginning of what might be a new era of crossover advertising on social media, where the push for profitability has to coexist with the wish for a good user experience.

Jun 06, 2024
<< Go Back