Here’s a harsh reality to swallow: most of all of our favorite free apps and online services will eventually end up with ads. We’ve seen the way ads are used destroy some services when they’re done wrong and we’ve also seen them done in a way that doesn’t get in the way too much.
Pocket recently announced that they will be adding sponsored content to the “Recommended” feed to its free users. The sponsored content will only show up on the “Recommended” page only and only if you are a free user. Premium users ($5/month or $44.99/year) will have an ad-free experience as well as other features such as tagging saved content and the search functionality.
At first glance, it may be annoying that another platform is adding advertisements to its service but Pocket seems to be doing it right. Instead of adding generic and cheesy advertising, they are going to be adding “high-quality content” that will feel “natural” to your Pocket experience.
I’ve been using the free version of Pocket for quite a while now and I don’t mind seeing advertisements because I know it helps keeps the free version free and the service to keep evolving. Also, they’ve been around for nine years (22 million users have saved over 2 billion articles) and this is the first time they are running advertisements so I would say that is a good run.
I don’t think this would change anything at all except seeing the word “sponsored” on some posts. The “Recommended” tab is already pulling in articles they think you might like to read so it is not that of a difference. Those posts will not be automatically saved to your list and the advertisers will not be able to see your data. Pocket says that you will be able to hide and give them feedback on posts you don’t like so they are able to provide you with content you might like.
It would, however, be intrusive if they added sponsored articles to your main page so you would see it every time you opened Pocket much like what Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter does with their ads—but we’re happy to report that this is not the case here. Whether or not this is enough to keep Pocket profitable and in business though, we’ll have to wait and see.