Is Instagram forcing you to watch ads?

Instagram has confirmed that it has begun testing “unskippable” ads that will force you to watch an advertisement for a fixed period of time before scrolling.

This new feature was first noticed by Instagram user Dan Levy, who shared a screenshot on his account on X and described the forced advertisement as a “bonkers move.” Several X and Reddit users have also reported seeing this new development and reported that Instagram displayed an “ad break” icon and countdown timer.

byu/FireCubX inInstagram

When the users clicked on the icon to understand more, Instagram gave them this message: “Ad breaks are a new way of seeing ads on Instagram. Sometimes you may need to view an ad before you can keep browsing.”

Instagram’s “unskippable ads” were confirmed by the social media platform. A Meta spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We’re always testing formats that can drive value for advertisers. As we test and learn, we will provide updates should this test result in any formal product changes.”

This latest move aligns with Instagram’s strategy to boost add engagement and garner more profits, which includes its evolution into a video-centric platform. By ensuring that ads are viewed entirely, Instagram can provide greater value to advertisers and can channel their profits into platform development.

However, historical precedent demonstrates that Instagram’s latest feature will not be received warmly by users. Platforms like YouTube that have introduced “unskippable ads” have faced extreme backlash and have had to improvise to retain their user base. Instagram will likely face similar criticisms, along with the threat of users moving to alternate social media platforms due to their frustration with the strained browsing experience.