Mystery numbers. It was a Lost thing, not lost on data fueled advertising.

It was back in March 2016 I started noticing first the presence, than the patterned appearance of what Instagram calls “sponsored”, a fancy name for the kind of advertising that can be mistaken for content.

I had a #count6 thing going, and collected my own data, collecting the position in my Instragram aglo-feed of such things. The first one was always 4th.

That was then. Now it’s often 2nd. And the spacing has steadily decreased to almost seeing an advertisement sponsored post every 5.4 pix.

Graph of occurence of first 6 ads in different time period, with more time, the curve goes flatter

But maybe charts and graphs don’t cut it; I reached for Hurley’s Mega Lotta Jackpot ticket, which I remixed to become the Insta Gram Adpot ticket. This was a ticket from March 2, 2016, when I was seeing advertisement sponsored posts about every 14th photo in my feed.

Mocked up lottert lookig tocket with numbers 4,115, 26, 46, 57, 73 and an average number of 13.8

Look how the numbers have fallen!

Another fake ticket with numbers 2,6,11,16,21,29 and an average of 5.4

Of course this is only my data. It’s my algorithm. Yours may be different. But have no doubt, they will cram as much ads in front of you as buyers will pay for.

I did experience a bit of odd creepy feeling 1 week or 2 ago. I started seeing ads slipping buy for different brands of chips. The thing is, I have never posted pictures of chips, nor have searched for them online, but did buy for our Halloween visitors a variety box including all 3 kinds from my local Safeway.



I do see ads for stuff I totally have no connection to. I cannot easily draw a line from Safeway purchased products to ads in Instagram. It’s tempting….

Anyhow, more #count6 adpot checking to be done.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. Alan,
    Yes, I observe that, too. But I have taken the approach of training IG to what kinds of ads interest me (as I do purchase from IG ads). Ig knows I’m interested in new apps, new iPhone accessories, well-made shoes, online photo and film classes, and travel. That hasn’t left much random room left over for chip or Safeway ads. I look at ads that have interesting content, sometimes buy, and let the rest scroll on by not much offended by the content.
    Of course, then they immediately jump over to my Facebook feed, but again, if I have to see ads, I’d prefer to see a curated selection, which is essentially what I’ve done.

    1. Glad that works.

      I’m not interested in providing them any data and, like you, for the most part ignore the adposts. I bet there is data in how quickly/slowly one scrolls past?

      I must accidently press a button somewhere, because somehow I found 2 corp accounts in my list of followed accounts.

      My interest was more in noticing the steady increase of ads. I project in the future the first photo you may see will be one of your ones fo new apps, new iPhone accessories, well-made shoes, online photo and film classes, and travel!

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