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This article was published on October 11, 2013

Instagram no longer lets users disable video autoplay, a small but important step towards ads

Instagram no longer lets users disable video autoplay, a small but important step towards ads Image by: AFP/Getty Images

Instagram announced earlier this month that it will begin serving in-feed advertising before the end of the year, and the Facebook-owned photo and video app has made a subtle, but important, change after it removed the option to switch off autoplay for videos on iOS. (The Android app retains an option to disable autoplay entirely, for now.)

The option is taken out by a seemingly minor update to the app that covers “performance updates and other improvements,” but lists no specific changes. Following the update, users who did not allow videos to pre-load in their feed are left only with a choice to always allow pre-play or restrict it to when they are on Wi-Fi connections only — presumably because of the data charges/usage that autoplaying videos can incur.


While the change may seem minor, it is significant for Instagram’s pitch to advertisers because it maximizes the audience eyeballs for ad spots. Now every iOS user on a WiFi connection, and those who don’t opt out of autoplay on cellular — which is set as default within the app — will watch, at least the beginning, of any video in their stream.

Right now that only applies to videos posted by the Instagram users who they follow, but it will apply to videos from advertisers soon.

Instagram says it won’t solely focus on video ads, advertisers will be able to use images too. In a blog post that announced the planned rollout of ads, the company stressed that it wants “these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.”

Headline image via Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images