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​Instagram launches targeted ads using Facebook data

Instagram has announced that ads from "carefully selected brands" will start appearing for Australian users, confirming that advertising would be targeted using information shared with Facebook.

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Instagram has started rolling out advertising on its Australian service using Facebook data to target the ads that users see.

From today, Instagram says all its users will "gradually see ads appear from a handful of carefully selected brands", regardless of whether or not they follow these brand accounts.

Photos and videos from paying companies will appear in the main Instagram feed and will be demarcated from user-generated content with a "sponsored" label. However, the company says these posts will "look similar" to other photos and videos, having been designed "to be seamlessly integrated with the Instagram experience".

Instagram says advertising will be a way to connect users with photos and videos from their "favourite brands," saying that if a user sees an ad they don't like, "they'll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn't feel right".

However, this audience feedback is not the only way Instagram is targeting the service. Instagram -- which was bought by Facebook in 2012 -- will also be personalising ads based on individual users' Facebook data.

A spokesperson from Instagram told CNET that the company's goal is to make its ads "as relevant as possible and we are using the best information we have to do that":

To ensure the ads are interesting to the user...Instagram uses information the user has shared on Facebook such as gender, age and interests, as well as the accounts they follow and the photos and videos they like on Instagram.

Of course, if the user doesn't have Facebook, or use a different email, then they will still see ads on Instagram based on the accounts they follow and the photos and videos they like on Instagram.

The spokesperson also confirmed that Instagram verifies user details through "account information that is the same across the services", which could include details such as a phone number or email. However, Instagram says that "in all cases...[it takes] precautions to protect the account information, and this info is not shared with advertisers or other third-parties".

Instagram ads launched in the United States at the end of 2013, with a number of big-name brands including Samsung, Disney and Coca Cola, and has since launched in the UK with ads from Starbucks, Cadbury and Sony Music.

Instagram's Australian advertisers at launch include Tourism Queensland, Vegemite, Ben & Jerry's, Toyota, Flight Centre, Audi, Lenovo, McDonald's and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.