Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Instagram to Let Users Book With Businesses in Challenge to Yelp

New feature will give advertisers a direct way to measure the power of Facebook's photo-sharing app

Instagram, the photo-sharing application owned by Facebook Inc., will soon let people book appointments with businesses, part of an effort to expand the app's consumer uses.

People will be able to set up a haircut, for example, by going to a salon's Instagram profile and clicking on a button to schedule it. The move could challenge companies like Priceline Group Inc.'s OpenTable and Yelp Inc. 

The new feature, set to roll out in the next couple months, will give Instagram's more than 1 million active advertisers a more concrete way to measure the impact of their accounts, said James Quarles, the app's head of business.

"When someone books an appointment, that's not a 'like' or a 'follow,' that's actual action," he said. The company may eventually add more tools, like reviews.

About 8 million businesses currently use profiles on Instagram, which the app is working to link to Facebook business profiles, Quarles said. Eighty percent of Instagram's users follow a business, he said.

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