Instagram’s Newest Feature Is Making Its Users Want To Quit

Instagram's new Ad Breaks feature could combat doom scrolling, but at the expense of the user.

Instagram is currently testing an “Ad Breaks” feature that interrupts the scrolling experience by forcing users to watch adverts for three to five seconds before being able to return to their feed.

Since Instagram already displays a lot of ads and sponsored content on its feed, the unskippable adverts have been a dealbreaker for lots of users, with many Redditors claiming they’ve already left the app in favor of alternatives like TikTok and YouTube Shorts.

With Instagram recently embracing a raft of new monetization strategies and relying more than ever on algorithmic-driven recommendations, its user experience is almost unrecognizable from what it was a decade ago. However, if users push back in the testing phase, there’s a chance the strategy won’t be rolled out across the board.

Instagram Experiments With New Ad Breaks Feature, And Users Hate It

Since Meta’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram, the platform has never been shy of adding new money-making features. However, Instagram’s unskippable adverts feature, which is currently being tested on select users, is already ruffling a lot of feathers and may just be the app’s most controversial ad strategy yet.

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Instagram’s new Ad Break feature forces users to watch adverts on their feed for three to five seconds before allowing them to scroll past and view more content. The ads present users with a small label notifying them about the feature, as well as a second-by-second countdown.

Users who requested more information are faced with a pop-up message reading: “You’re seeing an ad break. 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 new unstoppable ad feature, which has yet to be introduced to all users, resembles unskippable ads on platforms like YouTube. However, Instagram’s Ad Breaks displays ads at much shorter lengths than YouTube, which prevents users from skipping content for up to 30 seconds.

Unsurprisingly, Users Hate Instagram’s Ad Break

While it’s become increasingly common for users to purchase goods on Instagram, partially spurred on by the introduction of its Shopping feature in 2020, the Ad Break feature positions the app more as a digital billboard than a social media platform – and users aren’t happy.

Floods of users have taken to message boards like Reddit and X to complain about the new monetization feature and to share that they’ve already ditched Instagram for other short-form video platforms without mandatory ads, like YouTube Shorts. For example, Reddit user ‘the-s-is-for-sucks’ expressed they’d be leaving Instagram after the platform’s ads problem has gone from bad to worse.

“I hate this new “feature” so much – it is so in your face and to me, feels like a terrible business decision. The whole platform is already basically “soft ads” that generate revenue based on people being on there for ages…. If this continues, I’ll be unsubscribing.” – Reddit user ‘the-s-is-for-sucks’

Other users wonder if Ad Breaks will even be able to fulfil their desired purpose, with user sbgs87 commenting ‘I’ve bought an embarrassing amount of stuff via instagram ads, they worked just fine. Now when I see one of these unskippable ads (last 2 days) I exit right out of the app, probably not the kind of engagement they’re looking for’.

Will Ad Breaks Be Coming to a Smartphone Near You?

But do user opinions even matter? Well, according to Instagram, they just might. Since Ad Breaks is still in its testing phase, if the feature turns out to be wildly unpopular across the board, it may not result in any formal product changes.

This means that if you haven’t had your browsing experience interrupted by compulsory ad breaks yet, there’s a chance you’ll remain unaffected by the changes. However, even if advert breaks don’t begin popping up on your smartphone, this doesn’t mean the Instagram experience won’t be changing in the near future.

The Meta-owned short-form video app is continuing to expand other monetization features, including paid subscriptions and in-app purchases. What’s more, with half of users’ feeds now being made up of AI-recommended content from unfollowed profiles, Instagram believes that now is a perfect time to blend in more ads without seeming overly disruptive.

Don’t want mandatory ads to get in the way of your scrolling? Social media giant TikTok still lets you browse content without Ad Break-style interruptions. If you’re planning on jumping ship, learn how to get around the potential future TikTok ban here.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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