Instagram Is Testing Out Ads You Won’t Be Able to Skip

A spokesperson for the social network confirmed that the “ad breaks” are in the testing phase. One thing's clear: No one is going to like them.

Instagram is testing ads you won’t be able to skip
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Instagram is experimenting with a new commercial format that will force users to watch ads in full before they can continue scrolling. Instagram spokesperson Matthew Tye confirmed the update to The Verge after users made casual discoveries on social media that hinted at the new feature.

Why it matters. Instagram is the third most-used social network in the world, and this update would significantly change its user experience. Previously, users could quickly swipe through ads while they were viewing content.

These new “ad breaks” will force users to watch the entire commercial, which could lead to pushback from users.

Social network ranking by number of monthly active users

How does it work?

  • After you scroll for a while, Instagram will display an “ad break” that prevents you from continuing to browse.
  • A countdown icon will appear, showing the remaining time before you can resume browsing.
  • A message will explain that “sometimes you need to watch an ad before you can continue browsing.”
  • Some users are already seeing this type of ad as part of the initial testing phase. It's been spotted on Reddit and X. Click on the image to go to the original post.

Context. Social media platforms like YouTube have already embraced unskippable ads before and during videos. Given Instagram’s pivot to video content with Reels, it seems logical to explore this ad model even if it’s unpopular with users.

Between the lines. Meta’s spokesperson told TechCrunch they’re “testing formats that bring value to advertisers.” The decision suggests some pressure to increase ad revenue, even if it comes at the expense of the user experience, which has always been excellent on Instagram, content aside.

Reactions. The complaints appeared almost instantly. The Reddit post announcing the discovery drew a lot of criticism from users, both from those who claimed they would close the app or directly stop using it if they saw these types of ads and from those who accused the company of increasing its ad business at the expense of the user experience.

Instagram declined to say what exact parts of the app these “ad breaks” would appear in and whether the tests are global or staggered. Reddit screenshots show these ads in Instagram's main feed. We'll have  wait to see if the experiment will be definitive and for all users.

Image | Xataka with Midjourney

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