If you aren't on Instagram, you are in the minority. January 2013 data reveals that over 90 million users check into the application at least once a day. I admit it, I am one of them. Whether my interest comes from my personal affection for photography or the ease and ability to make a snapshot of my morning coffee look perfectly lit and well thought through is irrelevant, the important point is that now I can enjoy Instagram on my desktop just like on my phone… for the most part.
Moving the opposite direction of typical digital platforms that practice "web first, mobile second", Instagram announced yesterday that users can now browse and interact with their photo feeds on the web just as they can from a smartphone. The only difference with Instagram.com versus the mobile app is users can't upload pictures and add filters within the .com interface (I predict that feature will be added in the very near future). The web version also alerts you as new pictures are added, much like twitter and LinkedIn do with a plus count at the top of your feed, which isn't available in the app.
As the over 90 million users start logging onto Instagram.com they will be delighted to see their filtered-feed on the big screen and marketers will be equally delighted to see a large margin to the left and right of pure white space. From the start it looks like Instagram (aka Facebook) has left a nice little spot for some ad placement. No announcement has been made in regards to the monetization of the service but it would not only be a surprise, but a disappointment, to marketers everywhere if a new paid marketing platform wasn't announced within the next quarter.
My hope, as a digital marketer as well as a user, is that if (when) Instagram incorporates advertising into it's interface those ads would be relevant to the service as well as the users. Advertising brands/companies/organizations with a presence on Instagram would be ideal, however, we can't forget that Facebook owns Instagram which would lead us to believe that the platform would look similar to that already in place on FB, but it will be interesting to see how they decide to roll this feature out.
While I like the idea of having access to Instagram on the web, I personally feel like this move is more of a way to monetize in the future rather than anything else. For the vast majority, Instagram is a 'photo status' platform. Being able to take a quick shot of themselves, a random sign or dinner success and then apply a happy little filter in seconds before launching it into the internet is the beauty (and point) of the platform. This same behavior and engagement can't happen on the .com interface so it will be interesting to watch how they try to morph from a mobile app to a website, further growing the brand.