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Meta is testing out a feature that could make Instagram more like YouTube

Hannah Getahun   

Meta is testing out a feature that could make Instagram more like YouTube
  • Instagram is testing a feature that makes some ads unskippable.
  • YouTube has a similar strategy, which requires non-paying users to view ads before watching videos.

Quickly scrolling past AI-generated ads on Instagram that you don't care to see could soon no longer be an option.

With Reels, Instagram became more like TikTok. With Threads, Meta paired Instagram with a new X competitor. And now, the social media giant may be taking a page out of YouTube's book.

Instagram is testing out a feature that stops some users from scrolling for a brief period of time to watch an ad, a Meta spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Business Insider.

Only some users can see this feature, per posts on X and Reddit, but Meta said the feature could become a permanent addition to the app.

"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," the spokesperson told BI.

YouTube employs a similar ad strategy, making users of its free version sit through advertisements before they can watch videos.

Like TikTok, Instagram allows users to scroll past ads that appear in the main feed — or in between Stories — though that may now change.

According to social media posts from users who have been served the new unskippable ads, when users scroll through content, they see a small counter at the bottom of their screen that says "ad break."

"Sometimes you may need to view an ad before you can keep browsing," a text box explaining the feature on the Instagram app says, per a screenshot captured by Morning Brew.

Business Insider was unable to see the ad break feature on Instagram.

Over the past few years, Instagram has been experimenting with new features on its app, including Reels — which recommends videos in a TikTok-like fashion.

The emphasis on short-form video content has resulted in the app deemphasizing traditional photo posts from mutual followers — a practice that has seen mixed reviews.

Regardless, the changes could benefit the app: In 2023, Instagram beat out TikTok in growth and downloads.

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