Instagram has announced the next stage of monetization for IGTV, while it's also adding new digital 'badges' for IG Live, which will enable viewers to donate money to their favorite broadcasters.
First off, on IGTV - Instagram has been working to provide monetization opportunities for IGTV over the last few months, with the first stage of IGTV ads spotted in testing back in February (via Jane Manchun Wong).
Instagram then invited some creators to participate in the initial testing of ads in IGTV content in March, and now, it's announced a broader rollout of ads in IGTV content.
As explained by Instagram:
"Starting next week, we are introducing ads in IGTV, our long-form video destination. IGTV ads will initially appear when people click to watch IGTV videos from previews in their feed. The video ads will be built for mobile and up to 15 seconds long. We’ll test various experiences within IGTV ads throughout the year - such as the ability to skip an ad - to make sure the final result works well for people, creators and advertisers."
Instagram will share revenue from IGTV ads with creators, which will provide more impetus for them to create more IGTV content. In initial testing, creators received a 55% share of all ads in IGTV content, which is the same rate as YouTube offers. That could help to make Instagram a more competitive space for top creators - or even a supplementary channel, providing expanded opportunities for creators, along with more content for Instagram.
Instagram posted this overview of IGTV ads on its Instagram Creators account:
This is a major step for IGTV. The lack of monetization tools for Instagram's longer-form video option has been a significant impediment to its success thus far, but if top creators have more reason to post more content, more regularly, that will bring a much larger audience across, which will then enable Instagram to showcase more IGTV content, and build its offering.
If you haven't considered IGTV before, you may want to re-think it. Depending on how fast IGTV ads roll out, and the benefit creators see, it could become a much more relevant platform, very quickly.
In addition to IGTV monetization, Instagram's also looking to capitalize on the rise in live-streaming on the platform, by adding in a new way for live-stream viewers to donate to their favorite broadcasters.
As you can see here, some comments in Instagram Live videos will now appear with heart badges beside them. These badges can be purchased from Instagram, and allocated by viewers during a stream, essentially donating money direct to the streamer.
As explained by Instagram:
"Badges will appear next to a person’s name throughout the live video. Fans who have purchased badges in Live will stand out in the comments and unlock additional features, including placement on a creator's list of badge holders and access to a special heart."
The process is similar to Facebook's Stars streamer payments for gaming streamers, or YouTube's Super Chat option. On Instagram, users will be able to purchase different heart badges, ranging from $0.99 for one heart, to $4.99 for three. As noted by Instagram, streamers will then be able to see the badges next to viewer names in-stream, so they can give them a shout out and thank them for their support.
Instagram says that it saw a 70% increase in live-stream viewership from February to March, with people seeking out more ways to consume content and connect during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Given the increase, it makes sense for Instagram to look to further entice streamers to keep broadcasting, and badges will add an extra incentive to keep that content stream flowing.
At launch, viewers will only be able to buy one badge during a live video. In the initial phase, Instagram will not take a cut from the purchase of live-stream hearts, but it will look to take a percentage of revenue raised at some point in future.
These are both significant updates, which will likely make both IGTV and Instagram Live more relevant considerations for big name broadcasters and web celebrities. That's particularly relevant right now, because a lot of those influencers have lost sponsorship opportunities as brands pull back on promotional spend, while they're also losing out on event appearance fees, travel sponsorships, etc.
Introducing new options right now could see a lot more content flowing through Instagram - which means more viewers, and more time spent in-app. People are looking for more content to watch, influencers need new avenues for revenue. Right now could be the perfect time for Instagram to capitalize on both.
Instagram will begin testing IGTV ads "with a small group of creators and advertisers in the US, and will expand slowly over time as we improve the experience", while Live Badges will begin testing next month with a small group of creators and businesses. If you want to be considered for early access to badges, you can fill out this form.