Instagram is experimenting with unskippable adverts in a move that may reshape user interaction with the platform. Currently, users can scroll past ads in their feeds, stories, and reels. However, the new “ad break” feature being tested would require users to view the ad for a set duration before continuing their browsing.

Images shared by users depict a countdown timer that must reach zero before normal browsing resumes. Meta, Instagram’s parent company, confirmed the trial to the BBC, explaining it is always testing new formats to add value for advertisers. The company also mentioned that it would update users if the trial leads to permanent changes.

Reactions to the test have been mixed. Many users have expressed frustration, with some labeling the move as overly aggressive and driven by a desire to increase advertising revenue. On Threads, one user called the feature “bonkers,” while another on X (formerly Twitter) threatened to stop using the platform altogether.

This strategy is not unprecedented among major tech companies. YouTube has long implemented non-skippable ads for users who do not subscribe to its premium, ad-free service. Advertisers on YouTube can choose between 15 to 30-second non-skippable ads and shorter six-second “bumper ads.”

Despite the prevalence of such ads, their effectiveness remains debated. A TikTok study from January suggested that non-skippable ads might lead to reduced engagement. Over 70% of participants indicated a preference for ads they could skip, suggesting that viewer choice might enhance ad engagement.

As Meta continues to test and refine its ad strategies, the impact on both user experience and advertising efficacy will be closely watched. The platform’s ability to balance advertiser interests with user satisfaction will be crucial in determining the success of this new ad format.