Instagram is being used by nearly a quarter of all smartphone owners in the US, and is set to overtake Twitter this year in terms of market share, according to new research looking at mobile marketing trends in the US.
The research, from eMarketer, shows that Instagarm had a total of almost 35 million monthly users in the US during 2013.
With a 35% gain in users last year, the photo service has achieved market penetration of 16.1% among Internet users, close to Twitter’s 17.6%, the study found.
Instagram is slowly increasing its advertising efforts, planning to insert new image and video-based ads into users’ feeds. Earlier this month, Instagram landed its first major deal with ad agency Omnicom, worth as much as $100 million in ads from clients the agency represents, according to reports.
The comparison is not quite exact. EMarketer notes that Instagram usage “all but exclusively takes place on smartphones,” but the fact that some tiny proportion of Instagram users access the service through the web or on tablets means there’s a possibility that Twitter could still have the lead on phones.
With 241 monthly active users worldwide, Twitter still enjoys a modest lead globally.
That said, Instagram penetration among smartphone users is slowing, and this year the rate of increase will fall to 17%, down from 23.9% last year. While the service will continue to grow, especially among men, who now make up only about one-third of its users, by 2018 it will only have about 56 million users, less than half the number of Americans who now use Facebook’s phone apps.
“Instagram usage in the US has ramped up rapidly and is already maturing, reaching regular usage levels nearly matching Twitter’s, particularly on smartphones and among millennials and Gen Xers,” the report said. “By the end of this year, almost 25% of US smartphone users will snap a photo, slap on a filter, and share their creations with their friends on Instagram on a monthly basis.”
Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Instagram, which the social network acquired in 2012 for $1 billion, crossed the 200-million-user mark. Zuckerberg revealed the milestone during an investor relations call explaining Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR.
The eMarketer report looking into US mobile marketing trends comes at an interesting time for Twitter, which announced two major photo updates this week: Users can now tag up to ten people in a photo and upload up to four photos in one tweet without it affecting their character limit.
“Over time, Instagram’s user base in these age groups will approach, but not surpass, Twitter’s,” the report said. “eMarketer does not expect significant shifts in usage by age for either site within our forecast period, and Instagram’s user count among 19- to 44-year-olds will remain about 1 million fewer than Twitter’s in each year throughout our forecast.”