In context: Instagram’s Explore tab is great for finding new content on the platform. It is also pretty well used being opened by over 500 million users every month — a stat that has not flown by Facebook’s notice.
To monetize the high traffic that Explore has, Instagram has announced it will start injecting ads into the tab. It says it wants to do this "slowly and thoughtfully." In other words, it doesn't want to drive users off by suddenly spamming them with ads.
“We’re introducing ads in Explore slowly and thoughtfully in the coming months,” said the blog post introducing the change. “After tapping on a photo or video in Explore, people may begin to see ads as part of their browsing experience just like in the main feed. As always, people have control over the ads they see.”
Instagram has begun testing the advertisements using its floundering IGTV as a test promotion with a handful of users. Over the next several weeks it will be adding spots for other products and increasing its user exposure. Both big brands and small companies will be brought onboard. The slow rollout will occur over the course of a few months.
For now, current Facebook advertisers have to opt-in to get their spots in Explore, but eventually, ads will be placed there by default with an option to opt-out.
From the user’s side, Explore still works the same. Ads will not appear in the main grid when the tab is initially opened. They only kick in once a photo or video is tapped. Then while scrolling through content users will see the ads periodically inserted.
Overall, it seems fairly unobtrusive as long as the ad volume doesn’t get out of hand.