Instagram Isn't Monetizing Those Retro Photos; This New Ad Network Is

By Erin Griffith , written on March 5, 2012

From The News Desk

Photo sharing app Instagram, which can now boast 25 million users, hasn't started to monetize. That doesn't mean others won't beat it to the punch.

This weekend an Instagram-focused ad network called Instagrid Network launched to help connect prominent Instagrammers with brands and ad agencies.

To put this in lame tech PR-speak, it's like Klout Perks or Twittad/ for photos. To put it in plain English, if you're popular on Instagram, you can now get paid for slipping in a brand every so often. It's like when Kim Kardashian tweets about 1-800-Flowers, but, you know, nicer to look at. And the plan is to make it a little bit classier.

Instagrid Network has loose relationships with Marc Jacobs, Lacoste and Vizeo. Founder Benjamin Lotan said parent company Social Print Studio has built a custom Instagram site for Marc Jacobs that acted like a Tweetdeck for Instagram to help power-users engage better. He hopes to offer that to more brands.

The plan is to translate those and other brand relationships into solid, non-spammy partnerships with photographers on the network. "The last thing we want to do is pollute Instagram with display ads, this is something different," the site declares.

Those partnerships could come in the form of  users being paid for photos related to the brand based on their level of influence, or in the form of photographers being hired to shoot Instagram specific events for a brand. Regardless of the set-up, Lotan says the users will know how much money they're making in advance.

Obviously this brings up all the regular FTC disclosure issues we've encountered when Klout started offering its Perks and when various bloggers began pimping products.

Instagrid Network was created by the people behind, a provider of web galleries for Instagram photos, and Printstagram, a printing studio for them. So, these guys really love Instagram.

Still, they've had minimal feedback from Instagram's founders. "We're guessing they're busy with their 25 million users and pushing to Android," Lotan said. Fair enough. The Instagrid Network team might even be bigger than Instagram's famously lean operation. Acquisition candidate, anyone?

Image via Dana Lane Photography