Instagram Testing Unskippable 'Ad Breaks' In Feed

Similar to pre-video YouTube ads, Meta is testing a new kind of video ad called “ad break” in the Instagram feed that users must watch to continue scrolling through more content, according to various reports.

“Ad breaks are a new way of seeing ads on Instagram,” reads an in-app alert seen by photographer Dan Levy. “Sometimes you may need to view an ad before you can keep browsing.”

Another example posted to Reddit shows a Michael Kors video ad popping up in-feed with a timer counting down the seconds until the user is able to continue scrolling through Instagram.

Instagram has confirmed its ad break feature as it continues rolling out to a small handful of users. “We’re always testing formats that can drive value for advertisers,” said a Meta company spokesperson. “As we test and learn, we will provide updates should this test result in any formal product changes.”



Despite attempting to drive value for advertisers, user comments have predominantly skewed toward impassioned complaining, calling the feature intrusive, pushy and annoying.

“Seems like an aggressively pushy move to earn more ad dollars for Meta but I’m going to guess it will also just further anger a lot of users of Meta platforms who are already pretty frustrated with them,” wrote Levy on Threads.

Like many users, the feature has been tested with, so far, one Redditor, u/sus_pineapple_appt, who said goodbye to Instagram: “goodbye IG. I have no need for that.” Another user, u/the-s-is-for-sucks, thinks the feature is a “terrible business decision” that will likely alienate users across the globe.

“Meta has top tier UX designers, did they not do any research on this before pushing it onto the public?” commented u/HTM. “It completely disrupts the user’s flow. Adding friction like this is probably the worst way to increase engagement on ads.”

Other users are curious as to whether Meta is thinking about rolling out a paid subscription tier for Instagram, introducing unskippable ads to free users like YouTube does before and during longer videos.

However, it’s worth noting that YouTube and Instagram, while they are both social media platforms, are built for different purposes. Watching longer-form videos is an inactive process, while scrolling through a content feed is very much active. So much so that even a three-second ad could dissuade users from wanting to engage further with the app.

As Meta moves forward with its A/B testing for ad breaks, it will be interesting to see if the company decides to ignore popular opinion and implement it for all users.

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