Instagram Testing New Video Ads That Stop You From Scrolling

Instagram is currently testing out a new ad format that does indeed stop users from in the main feed of the app until they've viewed a video ad.

Instagram unskippable ads

As you can see in this example, shared by photographer Dan Levy, Instagram's new in-feed ad units appear with a timer at the bottom, and you can't scroll past the ad till the timer runs down.

Here's an explainer of how the new ad units work:

Instagram unskippable ads

As Instagram explains, you'll actually need to view the ad before you can keep scrolling, so these are essentially unskippable video ads in IG form.

Which, as you can imagine, is not going down great with Instagram users.

YouTube's unskippable video ads have long been cited as a key reason why people download ad blockers, because there are few things more annoying on the web than being forced to view disruptive, all-encompassing promotions for things that you're not interested in.

Ideally, digital ad targeting would have gotten so advanced by this stage that the targeting element is less of an issue, but really, there's no way to always display the right ad to the right user every time. So you are going to get random promos, particularly from big brands, blasted at you from time-to-time at least, and this new format would provide another way to force such messaging down your throat as you scroll through Instagram.

Which, from a brand perspective, I can understand the benefits of, in terms of exposure, timed placement, etc. But for users, not so much.

So why would Instagram do it?

Well, now that your main Instagram feed is half filled by AI-recommended content from profiles that you don't follow, predominantly short-form Reels video clips, that presents a great opportunity for Meta to add in more promotions, because if 50% of the content in your feed is from profiles that you don't follow anyway, you're not going to be as affronted by ads within that stream.

But the scroll-stopping part, I'm not so sure about.

Again, YouTube's unskippable ads are so annoying that YouTube has now had to implement new measures to stop people from using ad blockers in order to let them through.

People don't like being halted in their tracks and forced to view promotions, but maybe, if they prove effective, the value for Meta's ad business will outweigh user discontent.

Though it does seem like a risky proposition.

We've asked Instagram for more information on the scope of this test, and any further roll out plans, and we'll update this post if/when we hear back.

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