The Main Squeeze had a slightly spooky moment when she opened her Instagram app this morning. Last night, she'd been noodling around looking for a holiday place to stay. Now, near the top of her stream, there was the exact same place she had spent most time looking at, in a "sponsored" post.

We had a little chat about business models, surveillance capitalism and the like, and I shared my dismay that my preferred way of looking at photos from my Instagram friends -- strictly chronological, no ads -- was under siege as Instagram makes it harder and harder to use anything other than their own app and their algorithm. That may also make it more difficult to repatriate the photos I post to Instagram.

I've always said that I would pay for the kind of experience I want, but that alas this would be trivial compared to what Instagram makes from advertisers, based on nothing more than a gut feeling. So I went off to check on that feeling.

Instagram Revenue and Usage Statistics 2018 says that advertising revenue is set to reach $6.84 billion in 2018. Instagram by the Numbers says that 800 million people use Instagram each month. I have no idea how reliable either number is, and I don't care. The simple conclusion is that each person would have to pay $8.55 a year to equal whatever Instagram gets a year from revenue.

I would happily pay $12 a year for an ad-free, chronological timeline. And I know, for a fact, that advertisers are getting absolutely nothing of substance from me.

Instagram is leaving money on the table.

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