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Instagram to start serving ads 'within the next year'

After spending US$1 billion last year to buy Instagram, Facebook is ready to see some return from that investment.

Over the weekend, Instagram announced that it now has 150 million monthly active users, with over 60 per cent coming from outside of the US.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Facebook, which bought Instagram last year, is ready to start making some money back from that install base.

Instagram's chief operating officer Emily White told The Wall Street Journal that she expects the site to be selling ads within the next year, although she noted, "we want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure".

Putting ads on the site may prove to be a hard sell for its users, who've proven themselves willing to be vocally angry about too much change. When Instagram changed its terms of service last December, the backlash soon had it backtracking.

Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told the WSJ: "Theoretically, [Instagram] could be making hundreds of millions of dollars today, but they would need a big sales force and they would risk polluting the environment."

Many brands already use Instagram as a vehicle for marketing, so selling the currently free service back to them may also prove difficult for the company.