SEO

Instagram tests unskippable video ads in main feed

Instagram is experimenting with a new ad format that prevents users from scrolling until they view a video ad in their main feed.

Why it matters. The move could significantly boost ad exposure for brands but risks alienating users who find forced viewing intrusive.

How it works.

  • New in-feed ads display with a timer.
  • Users can’t scroll past until timer runs down.
  • Essentially “un-skippable” like some YouTube ads.

Why we care. On one hand, this feature is a great opportunity for advertisers to get their ads in front of an audience that are used to seeing ads. But could it come at a risk of losing customers who will find their scrolling experience significantly disrupted?

The big picture. With half of users’ feeds now AI-recommended content from unfollowed profiles, Instagram sees an opportunity to blend in more ads without seeming overly disruptive.

Ad blockers. YouTube’s unskippable ads are often cited as a top reason people use ad blockers, suggesting forced viewing is deeply unpopular.

Between the lines. Instagram’s shift to Reels-heavy, algorithm-driven feeds may be paving the way for more aggressive ad strategies.

What they’re saying. A Meta spokesperson told TechCrunch:

  • “We’re always testing formats that can drive value for advertisers. As we test and learn, we will provide updates should this test result in any formal product changes.”

The other side. Users are not thrilled. Photographer Dan Levy shared an example, sparking backlash in comments.

Screenshot 2024 06 03 At 09.21.19

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About the author

Anu Adegbola

Anu Adegbola has been Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land since 2024. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media, video and more.

In 2008, Anu’s career started with

 delivering digital marketing campaigns (mostly but not exclusively Paid Search) by building strategies, maximising ROI, automating repetitive processes and bringing efficiency from every part of marketing departments through inspiring leadership both on agency, client and marketing tech side.

Outside editing Search Engine Land article she is the founder of PPC networking event – PPC Live, host of weekly podcast PPCChat Roundup, and brand evangelist at ClickTech. 
She is also an international speaker with some of the stages she has presented on being SMX (US), SMX (Munich), Friends of Search (Amsterdam), brightonSEO, The Marketing Meetup, HeroConf (PPC Hero), SearchLove, BiddableWorld, SESLondon, PPC Chat Live, AdWorld Experience (Bologna) and more.

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