Instagram is in a bit of a pickle. After backtracking on its “brands can co-opt users’ photos and use them in promo campaigns” deal, Facebook‘s hottest “food porn” property has hit a few bumps in creating new “sponsored” revenue streams. Brands, of course, are all anxious to advertise themselves on a forum that inspires more than 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments every second.
What have they done? According to AdAge, they’ve started making their own commercials to run on the feeds of their celebrity “ambassadors”. Here, for example, is an ad obviously created by Pepsi but posted as just another picture on Beyoncé‘s account:
319,000 is a whole lotta likes.
Some brands have chosen to follow the now-classic “Kim Kardashian takes an image of herself using/wearing our product and we pay her $10,000” model. Reality star Nicole Richie, for example, recently posted a picture clearly labeled “Ad” that featured her using and commenting on a shampoo by Suave (which hired her to promote its new product line in a campaign that doubles as a tie-in with her NBC show Fashion Star). The pic does not seem to be visible on her stream at the moment, but you can see it on Suave’s press release page — and it originally included a link to this product microsite as well.
This is nothing new, really — brands have been paying “ambassadors” on Instagram to place their products in pictures since the service was a babe in swaddling clothes. It’s a form of product placement that’s very close to the traditional Twitter promo (if it had a picture):
— Nicole Richie (@nicolerichie) January 10, 2013
We’re fairly certain that traditional ads will be coming to Instagram soon and that they will inspire skepticism from the public as usual. Until then, brands can just call on trusty celebrity friends to shill for them and inspire hundreds of “girl, I know you don’t really use Suave” comments.
So the dance continues…