The Instagram service has been free of cost to users ever since it launched three years ago on the iPhone. After it became immensely popular, the service was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars last year, which signalled that there might be a change in the way the company made money. In this case, by starting to make money.
So Instagram has now announced how they will be making money. In the next couple of months, Instagram users in the US will start seeing promoted photos and videos from top brands on their timeline. These photos will appear on your timeline as if you were following that account. If you don’t like a particular photo or video, you can choose to hide it and report it.
Instagram has assured that they will be curating the content and making sure only good quality photos and videos end up on your timeline, something that you would want to see. This approach is significantly better than having traditional ads because as a user you get to see good quality, curated content and as a company, Instagram gets to monetize from it, thereby making it a win-win for everyone.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like you can ever opt out of this by paying for the app but hopefully the quality of the promoted content is good enough to not necessitate this.