Instagram eclipses 150M monthly users, says ads coming soon


Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)-owned photo sharing application Instagram said more than 150 million users worldwide now capture and share moments each month using its service, an increase of 50 million users over the last six months. More than 60 percent of users herald from markets outside of the United States, Instagram added.

Instagram is now turning its attention to monetizing its platform. Director of Business Operations Emily White, who joined Instagram from Facebook in March, told The Wall Street Journal that the firm will begin selling advertisements within the next year, adding that Instagram is still exploring how to most effectively integrate marketing without jeopardizing the app's image and alienating users.

"We want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure," White said, adding that she is in the process of meeting with every major brand with an Instagram account. Last week alone, White sat down with executives from Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company and Williams-Sonoma.

Instagram ran afoul of users in late 2012 when it proposed privacy policy and terms of service changes tied to planned advertising services, later reverting to the original ad terms in place since the service launched in October 2010. Too much overt marketing could undermine Instagram's continued growth, observers say. "Theoretically, [Instagram] could be making hundreds of millions of dollars today, but they would need a big sales force and they would risk polluting the environment," Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told the WSJ.

It is also uncertain whether marketers will see any value in paying for services that Instagram already offers for free. Brands like Nike and Lululemon Athletica already run free viral Instagram campaigns. "Brands always demand metrics," said John Manoogian, co-founder of social advertising service 140 Proof. "As it becomes a real advertising platform, they will be held to traditional standards, brands will want to see how these photos and videos tie back to their sales objectives."

Available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Instagram enables users to snap, filter and manipulate photos and then upload their work to social media sites. The app added video recording and sharing capabilities in June, a move to combat the growth of Twitter's popular Vine video app. Facebook acquired Instagram for $715 million last year.

For more:
- read this Instagram blog post
- read this Wall Street Journal article

Related articles:
Instagram snaps up video sharing app Luma, shutdown slated for Dec. 31
Instagram cracks down on brand copycats
Instagram restores third-party Windows Phone app photo uploads
Instagram introduces Web embeds for photos, videos
Facebook unveils Video on Instagram, challenges Twitter's Vine