Instagram Stories now has as many users as the last number announced by Snapchat, the app Instagram copied, and it is swiftly moving to monetize that massive audience. Along with the new 150 million daily user stat, Instagram announced the launch of ads mixed into Stories. The unclickable 5-second photo and 15-second video ads appear between different people’s stories and can be easily skipped. Instagram will also provide business accounts with analytics on the reach, impressions, replies and exits of their Stories.
Monetizing the feature just 5 months after its August launch might seem premature and could potentially slow its rapid growth, which saw it hit 100 million dailies in October thanks to Stories appearing atop the Instagram feed home screen instead of a different tab or app.
Yet Stories now has the same user count as Instagram’s feed did when it started showing ads in late 2013. It’s just that it took Instagram, now with 600 million monthly and 300 million daily users, three years to get there.
The new Story ads will eventually roll out globally on all interfaces, but will first be tested over the next few weeks with a group of 30 partners including Capital One, General Motors, Nike, and Netflix. 70 percent of Instagram users already follow a business, and one-third of the most watched Stories on Instagram were created by businesses, so the company thinks its partners can make ads that won’t bore people into closing the app.