Instagram unskippable adverts: Fans threaten to ‘deactivate and delete’ app as new ad feature tested

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  • Instagram has been testing ‘ad breaks’ on users.
  • A countdown timer appears and app can’t be scrolled until its finished.
  • Redditors spotted the feature and raised concers.
  • Would it make you quit Instagram - for plenty of users it would be make-or-break.

The days of wasting away your precious hours on this earth scrolling Instagram with mindless, reckless abandonment could be coming to a sudden end. But when you put it like that it could be a blessing in disguise. 

Instagram has been testing “unskippable ads” with users around the world. Perhaps you’ve already bumped up against the ‘ad breaks’ feature which brings your scrolling to a jarring halt, if you are part of the unlucky few. 

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Flicking past targeted and decidedly non-targeted ads has become an ever increasing price to pay for existing on the internet in the 21st century. I am, for my sins (and mostly for the memes/ football news), a self-confessed addict of X, the app-formerly known Twitter, and if I was forced to stare directly at the adverts for a set amount of time, it would probably be the kick I need to delete my account forever. 

A spokesman for Instagram confirmed the Meta owned company was testing ‘ad breaks’ to The Verge. Matthew Tye told the website, the social media platform would “provide updates should this test result in any formal product changes.”

If the ‘ad breaks’ feature is rolled out far and wide, it would be the latest in a series of changes introduced by Instagram in 2024. The tech YouTube world was sent a flutter in recent weeks amid reports that the dreaded algorithm had been changed yet again… 

How have people reacted to Ad Breaks? 

Stock photo of Instagram logo. Picture: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty ImagesStock photo of Instagram logo. Picture: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images
Stock photo of Instagram logo. Picture: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images | LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

In a backlash that only an ostrich with its head buried in the sand could have not seen coming, the ‘ad break’ feature has gone down like a lead balloon on social media. 

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Following the initial reports early in June, one person on Twitter wrote: “Hey quick question, has Instagram gone insane or something??? I can barely see things posted by people I actually follow and now they want me to watch unskippable ads in between all that mess?? Be serious

Sid from Just Another PM echoed the sentiment, saying: “Instagram confirms test of ‘unskippable’ ads. A perfect example of how NOT to balance user needs and business goals. To increase revenue, IG is now forcing users to watch ads while scrolling the feed.” 

Another user added: “Where are we going when Instagram introduces unskippable ads?”  Forbes 30 under 30 club member ChiThukral waded in and said: “Instagram is testing unskippable ads because we are not allowed to have any fun on the internet now.”

One Twitter account posted: “Instagrams testing unskippable ads?? I already debate deleting the app like once every 3 months. If I ever get that, I will just deactivate and delete, they are NOT that important.” 

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Ryan Broderick over at the essential newsletter for all tech junkies Garbage Day panned the move. He wrote on 5 June: “Look, I’m not going to mince words here. There is not a single piece of content on any Meta platform that is worth sitting through an unskippable ad to watch the entirety of.”

How do Instagram’s ‘ad breaks’ work? 

The ‘ad breaks’ were first highlighted after being spotted by the users on Reddit. Users are stopped after a finite amount of time on the app and a countdown timer appears, which prevents them from scrolling again until it finishes. 

It is a feature that will not be unfamiliar to regular YouTube users, which introduced unskippable 30-second ads on its TV app last year. And if Instagram’s experiments are anything to go by, it may become more and more common in the near future (sigh).

Have you had any ‘ad break’ messages on your Instagram? If you have share your experience with our Tech Writer by emailing [email protected]. To get a glimpse of the goings-on in Silicon Valley with Garbage Day’s essential daily newsletter.

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