Instagram tests forcing users to watch adverts



Instagram is testing adverts that users cannot skip past.

The social media platform currently allows people to swipe or scroll past adverts that appear in its main feed of images and videos, as well as in its Stories and Reels feeds.

But it is now trialling a feature called “ad break”, which users say they can not flick past as usual.

Images shared online show a timer, which counts down to zero before normal functionality can resume.

“Sometimes you may need to view an ad before you can keep browsing,” the Meta-owned platform tells those who click for more information.

Instagram has confirmed to the BBC that a trial is underway.

“We’re always testing formats that can drive value for advertisers,” it said in a statement, adding that it would provide further updates if the test resulted in permanent format changes.

In a subsequent statement, Meta said it was “always experimenting with new products and ad solutions in line with the evolving consumer trends and business needs.”

‘Ad dollars’
It remains to be seen if the trial pleases advertisers – but it certainly does not appear to have gone down well with users.

One person on Threads called the move “bonkers” – adding that it “seems like an aggressively pushy move to earn more ad dollars for Meta”.

Others have raised the prospect of boycotting the platform.

“We will simply not be scrolling,” said one X (formerly Twitter) user.

Meta is not the first big tech firm to force people to watch adverts.

YouTube is known for showing non-skippable ads to users watching videos on its platform or TV app who do not pay for its ad-free premium tier.

Advertisers can target YouTube viewers with 15 to 30 second-long, non-skippable promotional videos that appear before, during or after other videos if they want people to view their entire message.

They can also advertise using similarly non-skippable “bumper ads” – shorter videos of up to six seconds long – on YouTube videos.

Some users have responded by turning to ad blocking tools and browser extensions as a way around adverts that interrupt videos on the platform.

Google, YouTube’s parent company, is in turn trying to clamp down on ad blockers.

However it is not clear that forcing users to watch more ads actually helps companies’ bottom lines.

A study carried out by TikTok, published in January, suggested forcing viewers to watch adverts might actually lead to less engagement.

More than 70% of its participants said they were more likely to engage with the experience of an advert if there was an option to skip it.

(BBC News)


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