Instagram will begin selling ads within the next year in an effort to monetize the popular photo-capturing app, which was acquired by Facebook last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Instagram, which announced today that it had reached more than 150 million monthly active users, has never made a cent for the company, but Emily White, director of business operations, is hoping to change that.  White, who joined Instagram from Facebook, plans to introduce ads slowly in an effort to make money for the company without alienating its big customers, according to the Journal.

“We want to make money in the long term, but we don’t have any short-term pressure,” she said in an interview with WSJ.

One challenge the company faces is convincing marketers who are already running free viral campagins on Instagram that they need to spend money on a service Instagram currently gives away free, the paper said.

While there’s no specific plan on how the ads will be rolled out into feeds, the other difficulty for Instagram will be integrating the ads without slowing down the service or turning off the prized demographic of teen and young adults.

White told the Journal that the challenge is to “figure out how to integrate marketing without jeopardizing Instagram’s cool factor.”

White’s team did say to the Journal, however, their they are looking at the possibilities around the app’s Discover feature, which promotes popular content, as well the search function, which allows users to look up images or themes.

White said she wants to avoid some of Facebook’s missteps with advertisers and keep things simple.  Facebook “created a ton of different products and it got complicated,” she told the Journal.

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She’s already courting some big brands including Ford, Williams-Sonoma and Coca-Cola, all of which she met with last week, the Journal reported.

What do you think about Instagram’s plan to make money?  Do you think users will find a free alternative instead?


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