clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Instagram Is Showing You a Lot More Ads Than It Used To

Here's a chart to prove it.


You haven’t been imagining it — Instagram is showing you more ads. A lot more ads, actually.

Instagram cryptically announced back in June that it was going to start serving more ads, and then it launched an ads API in August to let third-party companies sell ad vacancies for them. But Facebook doesn’t break out Instagram’s revenue numbers, which makes it hard to tell just how much “more” advertising Instagram actually planned to sell.

Brand Networks, an ad network that is one of Instagram’s official ad partners, released data Monday in two charts that show just how quickly Instagram ramped up its ad efforts.

Brand Networks served 50 million ad impressions on Instagram in August, a number that doubled to 100 million in September and reached 670 million for the month of December. That means Brand Networks served 13 times more ad impressions after just a five months.

Here’s what that kind of ad growth looks like in chart form.

Brand Networks

The instant takeaway is usually that more ads correlates to more business, but the risk when increasing the number of ads on a platform is that they become less valuable. That didn’t happen with Instagram. Despite the dramatic increase in the number of ads, it maintained a similar (actually slightly higher) CPM, or cost per 1,000 ad views, over the five-month stretch. That means that even though Instagram served way more ads, it was able to charge advertisers roughly the same price for them.

CPMs for all Instagram ads — that includes video and carousel ads, too — were $5.21 in September, peaked in November at $7.20, and then fell back to $5.94 in December.

Brand Networks

A few things worth noting here: These numbers come from just one ad partner, so it’s possible that Instagram’s overall figures are different. But the general trend, that Instagram is showing more ads and those ads are holding their value, is a major positive for Facebook.

Facebook still hasn’t made any indication that it will start to treat Instagram as its own, separate revenue stream on the company’s earnings reports. But analyst firm MoffettNathanson believes Instagram will eventually be a $5 billion per year business, so it’s only a matter of time.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.