Instagram’s User Growth Projected to Slip Over Next Few Years

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NEW YORK—Has Instagram’s growth topped out among U.S. consumers? According to a recent analysis by eMarketer, Instagram's U.S. user growth rate in 2019 will show a drop to single digits for the first time, with expected user growth coming in at 6.7 percent. This is down from 10.1 percent growth in 2018, according to eMarketer’s recent analysis and forecast.

“Starting in 2020, and through the end of our forecast period in 2023, we estimate that the social media platform will grow slower than previously expected,” the research firm noted.

In 2020, user growth is expected to be 4.5 percent, which is revised down from the firm’s earlier forecast of 5.4 percent user growth. In 2021, user growth will come in at 3.2 percent instead of the 4.1 percent previously forecast. “Contributing to Instagram’s overall slower growth is the fact that older age groups are not joining the platform as quickly as anticipated,” according to eMarketer.

While older users will not be growing as fast, there have been larger-than-expected gains in U.S. users in the 25 to 34 age group, with growth of 11.4 percent. “However, we don’t anticipate that this group will change substantially in the coming years, as increased competition from a Snapchat resurgence and the rise of TikTok will make it harder for Instagram to maintain high growth,” according to eMarketer.

Commented Nazmul Islam, a junior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, “Instagram is doing really well—it is the second-most internet-penetrated social media platform in the U.S. behind Facebook, and despite increased pressure from competition, we expect it to maintain its second-place position with a good gap from the rest of the platforms.”

Additionally, Instagram’s ad revenues continue to grow at high double-digit rates, according to eMarketer. The firm expects the social media platform to generate $9.45 billion in ad revenues in 2019, and grow 46.6 percent to almost $13.9 billion in 2020. “Newly introduced ads in different parts of the app, like the ‘Discover’ tab, open up more inventory for advertisers,” eMarketer noted. “Shoppable ads are currently in beta on the platform, but we expect that they will play a major role in future growth.”

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