Instagram previews sample ads targeted to your Facebook likes

Instagram ads are coming. We knew that. But Instagram is going to hold your hand through the process. Don’t be scared.

In the next week, you’ll see a sample ad in your Instagram feed. It’s a one-off test to give you an idea of what ads will look like. Facebook’s photo-sharing network on Thursday shared an image to give you an idea of what to expect.

This sample will appear in your stream in the next week.

As you can see, ads won’t disrupt the normal flow of your photo stream. Instagram simply added a “Sponsored” tag where the time stamp normally is to differentiate the two—sort of like how magazines and newspapers distinguish advertorials from editorial content.

If you tap on the “Sponsored” link in the sample ad when it appears in your stream, you’ll see more information about Instagram advertising and how it works.

There’s no opt-out function, but you can tap the “…” that appears below each ad to hide it from your feed and tell Instagram why you didn’t like it. You could conceivably do this with every ad, but who has that kind of time?

The first brands to participate in Instagram’s advertising rollout are General Electric, Levi’s, Burberry, Ben & Jerry’s, Lexus, Macy’s, Starwood, Michael Kors, and PayPal. It’s a sort-of diverse set of brands that have already used Instagram as pseudo-advertising platforms—now they’re paying for the privilege.

Ads that speak to your soul

Instagram will know which ads to show you because it knows your deep, unabiding love of latte art and San Francisco’s famous fog.

But the company will also use information it gleans from your Facebook account to know which ads to show you, according to its advertising FAQ:

“We want to show ads from businesses that are interesting to you, and to do that we will use information about what you do on Instagram and Facebook (our parent company). For instance, this might include the people you follow and the photos and videos you like on Instagram, and your interests and other basic info on Facebook.”

The company also noted that “everyone on Instagram will see ads from time to time whether or not they’re Facebook users, and basic information from Facebook helps create a more relevant experience.”

Instagram has learned its lesson about making big changes. Thursday’s ad preview included a key footnote: “As always, you own your own photos and videos. The introduction of advertising won’t change this.”

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