Get ready for more video content, this time from Instagram.
With the Facebook-owned platform continuing to expand from its image-based roots, Instagram has launched a new, separate app called ‘IGTV’, its own, longer form video hub – though the focus is not on episodic, TV-like content, as has been The Social Network’s push with Facebook Watch.
These younger users are just as aligned with PewDiePie as they are with MTV (likely more so), and Instagram’s looking to cater to this with short, web creator-focused videos.
As explained by Instagram:
"We've learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals."
According to TechCrunch, Instagram's been meeting with a range of online creators, in order to entice them across to their new video platform. In those meetings, Instagram’s representatives have emphasized 10 minute vlogs, as opposed to extended programs.
To that end, and as Instagram explains, in IGTV the creators themselves are the 'channels':
"In IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator - you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel."
That opens the door for more creators (and brands) to get in on the IGTV act, which is a different approach to long-form video content than Facebook and Snapchat have taken - but then again, at launch, there's no defined way for creators to monetize their IGTV efforts. Instagram has said that they are committed to helping creators monetize, and options on this front will come. But they're not available as yet.
But despite the focus on shorter videos, IGTV content can actually be up to an hour long - the actual specs of Instagram’s new longer form videos are as follows:
- Videos can be up to 60 minutes long (a big jump from Instagram’s current 60-second limit)
- Videos can be up to 3.6gb
- Videos will be in MP4 format
- Videos should be 9:16 size
Rumors of Instagram’s longer form video hub had been floating around for the last few weeks - but the big question now is 'do Instagram users actually want to watch longer form video content on the platform?'
The best comparison is probably Snapchat Discover, given Instagram's push here seems more focused on creating a challenger for Snapchat’s shorter form publisher space than the video efforts of Facebook Watch (which take aim at YouTube).
On Discover, Snap has focused on publishing scripted programs of between three-to-five-minutes in length, catering to audience interest. Rather than challenging traditional TV, Snap has sought to create a complimentary TV viewing experience, which aligns more with fast-paced mobile consumption, and is more resonant with younger users.
That’s where Instagram sees opportunity – but it is also worth noting that Snap’s video programs haven’t exactly set the publishing world on fire, with several shows failing to generate significant interest, and subsequently being canceled.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Snap from adding unskippable 6-second ads – though that’s also partly as a way to reassure advertisers that their video ad content is actually being seen. The average view time for Snap ads is currently less than two seconds, though according to Snap, that’s not such a bad thing, it just means you need to top-load your messaging. How you view their stance here is dependent on your perspective.
But even with those assurances, Snap is still looking to make more direct connection with advertisers in order to teach them how to make more native-looking ads for the platform, in order to improve performance. Really, none of the signs suggest that Snap’s video efforts are going as well as they’d hoped – but then again, Snap is pushing ahead. They wouldn’t be doing so if there wasn’t enough viewership to continue.
You could probably go either way on Snap’s video efforts as an example. To the Snap optimist, they show that the platform is on the right track, and their video efforts are producing results. To the Snap pessimist, maybe the company needs all the ad dollars they can get, so they’ll push forward regardless as they reach for more lucrative video ad offerings.
And then, how does that relate to Instagram?
Maybe it seems like too much, a step too far away from what Instagram once was. But then again, look through your Instagram feed and it’s increasingly video, and video content on Instagram generates the most engagement, in terms of both comments and Likes.
Maybe, then, Instagram’s move is pure logic, catering to user demand and providing a more specific platform for influencers, encouraging them across. More influencers spending more time on Insta means more users sticking around to see what they do. There’s plenty of reasons why this could be a stroke of genius from the platform.
Whether it works out that way, only time will tell.
As noted, IGTV is a separate app from the main Instagram platform, but you'll also be able to watch and/or upload IGTV videos from the main Instagram app.