Vero Is Instagram Without The Ads—But Will It Stick?



People are flocking to Vero for its ad-free, chronological environment, but the jury’s still out when it comes to whether it will have staying power.


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One of the fastest-growing apps in the App Store right now isn’t a crypto trading platform or hot new mobile game. It’s an Instagram clone that promises to deliver people with better experiences by removing advertisers from the equation.

Meet Vero, a photo-sharing app whose community is growing by 500,000 people by the day as of Feb. 27. Vero goes by the tagline “True Social,” and vows to deliver socially connected experiences without the “media” layer.

Interestingly, the app isn’t even new. In fact, it’s more than three years old—ancient by internet standards—and wasn’t even among the top 1,000 apps as of a few weeks ago.

Vero was launched in 2015 by the billionaire mogul Ayman Hariri. The founder, who is the son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, created the app because he disagreed with the premise of ad-supported social networks. His vision: Create a social platform wherein users do not need to sacrifice their data to advertisers.

Another key characteristic of Vero? The feed is exclusively chronological, something that users of platforms like Twitter and Instagram have been vocal about since those platforms began bumping up ads and other content in ways that feel counterintuitive to the way we interact with the events of our day-to-day lives.

Vero doesn’t make any money right now, but according to Mashable, the platform will eventually introduce a subscription model by which users pay a nominal fee in exchange for their use of the service.

Here’s what marketers need to know about the buzzy new kid on the block:

It’s way too soon for a Vero strategy

New platforms have always popped in and out of the scene, but few have demonstrated the staying power to take on the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other established players. Remember the anonymous chat apps Yik Yak and Whisper? And how about Peach, Yo, and Sarahah? While Vero’s growth is noteworthy and impressive, marketers shouldn’t rush to set up their presences there quite yet. As is the case with any emerging platform, it’s important to thoroughly vet the opportunity to ensure it’s right for your brand and relevant to your target audiences.

Capitalizing on a whitespace

Still, while many social upstarts try (and fail) to take on the big dogs, Vero has a few things working in its favor. First, frustrations over Instagram’s algorithm update have not waned since it was first introduced in 2016. Second, Snapchat’s recent update is not playing well among many users, creating an opportunity for a new visual content platform to emerge. And if you think people won’t pay for a service that is typically free, consider The New York Times’ record-breaking subscription numbers from the past year as proof that they will, given the right product.

The big picture

With ad-blocking on the rise (P.S. Don’t miss Kiip’s Brian Wong tackling this topic at SMWNYC), marketers should be closely following a broader movement in which ad-supported environments are increasingly drawing ire from savvy consumers. Advertising isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but brands can diversify their approach by delivering valuable experiences via content, live events, rewards, and more.

For the latest on all of the established and emerging social platforms, join us at SMWNYC (April 24-27) at the Sheraton Times Square. Register your pass today.

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