Instagram is taking its aim at becoming the next generation’s version of TV. The company had two major announcements at their event in San Francisco. First, Instagram announced that it had managed to surpass one billion active monthly users. And this is a big deal, considering that it had just around 800 million active users in September, last year.
This enormous audience could prove to be quite a powerful draw for its second announcement, the launch of IGTV, a long-form, vertical-video platform the hub is launching. While there are no monetization options for IGTV at the moment, they certainly are expected in the near future.
What is IGTV?
IGTV is a brand-new app where you can watch videos made by your favorite creators. What separates IGTV from regular Instagram is the fact that it’s built for mobile use, which means that all the videos are vertical, but also full screen. Unlike Instagram, IGTV doesn’t have a 60-second limitation on its videos. In fact, each video you upload to the new service can be up to an hour long.
The service is accessible from a standalone app and from a button inside the official Instagram app. IGTV will feature popular videos made by already established Instagram celebrities, but will soon allow everyday users to upload videos as well. Everyone will be able to upload their vertical videos, apart from small channels and channels that have been recently created.
IGTV app is available for both Android and iOS devices, but can also be accessed via the small, TV-shaped button you can find above the Stories and next to the messages. The app is made to allow people to enjoy content made by their favorite creators without being distracted by messages, stories, and similar notifications.
Whether through the in-Instagram experience or via the dedicated app, viewers can easily swipe through different, long-form, vertical videos, swipe up to reveal the browser, with options that include personal recommendations, the people they follow, popular videos on the platform and the option to continue watching the videos you previously started. New content alerts are either displayed on the little TV button inside the official Instagram app or via notification made by the standalone, IGTV app.
How will IGTV affect advertising?
At this moment, there are no ad options in IGTV, nor are there any other ways for creators to monetize their videos. There will be a monetization solution in the future, according to Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom. Considering that creators are investing quite a lot of energy and time into making IGTV videos, it’s only a matter of time before the company starts sharing revenue with them. There are already ads inside the Instagram app and they were recently incorporated into Instagram Stories.
IGTV is currently working hard on building a content pool for long-form, vertical videos and establishing influencer channels. Advertisers should take notice of these soon-to-become-IGTV-influencers and work on ways to partner with them, either to do smart product and service placements or simply engage with them in video branding.
YouTube has seen a dip in ad revenue and Facebook didn’t take long to jump the opportunity and introduce additional channels for viewers to find new and interesting content, but also for advertisers looking for new ways to leverage brand influence and market products and services. Micro-content and short-form videos might be a better investment in the future than the long-form video, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any options for long-form content as well.
Even long-form videos can be well utilized as long as the experience is seamless and intuitive and the users don’t have to leave the comfort of their favorite app. The launch of IGTV only affirms Facebook’s dedication to leaving no stone unturned. These new vertical, hour-long videos can prove to be quite entertaining and engaging for the younger generations constantly seeking out new and unique content, but also for advertisers looking to capitalize on those younger generations.
This new age of skippable ads and TiVo recordings, it’s important for advertisers to design videos that will not only attract just the right target audience but also keep their attention on the long-run. Short videos might be popular at the moment, but content length is just a part of the story. In fact, aligning your creative output with the desires and needs of your viewers is what makes a marketer successful. Some of the greatest video ads are designed to be appealing and provide value to their viewers, not simply bombard them with ads and hidden agendas.
The most viable advertising model marketers could one day use on IGTV is arguably the CPM or “cost per thousand” model. This model could easily prove to be the most effective way of monetizing the platform, as it guarantees a predictable revenue stream as long as the agreement is in place and allows marketers to reap the benefits early on in IGTV’s short existence. But more importantly, it allows marketers to collaborate with content creators directly, instead of relying on different monetization options and ad revenue.
Instagram has grown out of it’s simple, image-sharing beginnings and quickly became the go-to place to follow your favorite creators and enjoy the short-form video content they put out. But as more and more people move away from the traditional television screens, the launch of long-form vertical video can prove to be an excellent opportunity for the image and video sharing giant to become the mobile version of TV. YouTube might have an extremely wide range of content, but Instagram’s appeal is less about diversity and more about the curation of video content and becoming a reliable place to watch that curated content on the small screens.