Instagram confirms test of ‘non-skippable’ ads

Instagram confirmed that it is testing unskippable ads after screenshots of the feature began circulating on social media. These new ad breaks will display a countdown timer that will prevent users from being able to navigate through more content in the app until they see the ad, based on the informational text displayed in the Instagram app.

The change would make the social network more like the free version of YouTube, which requires users to watch ads before and while watching videos. It makes sense that Instagram would also consider going this route, given that it has also changed over the years to become more of a video-sharing network, thanks to features like Stories and Reels, rather than a place to only share photos.

“We are always testing formats that can generate value for advertisers,” a Meta company spokesperson told TechCrunch. “As we test and learn, we will provide updates should this testing result in any formal changes to the product,” they noted.

The new “ad break” feature was initially spotted by Instagram app user Dan Levy, who posted a screenshot of the test to his account on X. The app prevented Levy from scrolling past the ad when it appeared, he said, something he thought was a “crazy move.”

A follow-up post on Reddit clarified that if you click the info icon next to the ad break for more information, you’ll see a message that says: “You are watching an ad break. Ad breaks are a new way to view ads on Instagram. Sometimes you may need to see an ad before continuing browsing.”

Other commenters confirmed that they had also seen the performance on occasion. As you can imagine, most of the reactions were negative. Some people threatened to shut down Instagram if they encountered “ad breaks” like this, while others said they would stop using the app entirely. Additionally, commenters questioned whether this decision was driven by the need to increase ad engagement, at the expense of consumer experience.

Levy’s post has since been recirculated by other accounts on X, such as @howfxr and @Dexerto.

Instagram declined to say where in the Instagram app ad breaks are displayed and whether the company was testing the feature globally. The screenshots, however, show ad breaks appearing in the app’s feed while watching video posts. It’s unclear at this time if Instagram creators will have any control over the appearance of these ads.

For now, the feature is just a test, but it demonstrates the extent to which Meta is willing to experiment with the app’s core user experience in favor of higher advertising revenue.

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