After its coming IGTV monetization tools were spotted in testing last month, Instagram has now confirmed that it's reaching out to a group of selected creators in order to invite them to participate in the initial testing of in-stream ads on their IGTV videos.
As reported by Bloomberg:
"Instagram started reaching out to its top video creators last Friday, asking them to partner on ad tests. Those in the program will receive a 55% share of all advertising in IGTV, the same rate as YouTube, according to people familiar with the matter. The company will start testing the ads this spring."
The capacity to generate real, direct income from IGTV could be a critical lure for top creators - especially given that they're already able to generate revenue from their content on both YouTube and Facebook. The lack of monetization tools for IGTV has been seen as a significant impediment to the platform's success, but if Instagram is able to provide a new income stream for influencers, that could entice more of them, and their large audiences, to come across to Instagram's longer-form content option.
IGTV does, however, sit in an awkward spot, in terms of the broader video market. Short-form video is popular within the various Stories options, as well as on TikTok, while Snapchat's 'Snap Originals' - its more polished, vertical format, episodic video shows - have started to gain momentum in recent times.
IGTV seems to be going for the same audience as Snap's Originals, tapping into emerging video consumption trends, which are seeing more users opt for shorter, mobile-optimized, episodic content. But Snap Originals are very short, with an average length of five minutes per episode. IGTV content can be up to an hour long, and most IGTV uploads are around the 15-30 minute mark.
So why would users switch across? What's going to compel users to view longer-form video content on Instagram, as opposed to seeking it out on Facebook, YouTube or any other streaming video service?
The biggest lure here is likely reach. Instagram has over a billion active users, and its audience is different to the people that you'll reach on Facebook or YouTube. That, along with the capacity to monetize your IGTV content, could prove to be enough of a lure to get top creators to post more often, essentially providing them with another platform to expand their reach and make more money from their content.
In this sense, Instagram's decision to add IGTV previews in the app's main feed last February is likely critical to this new expansion, as it means that creators can use the maximum reach capacity of the main app in order to re-direct more users across to their IGTV streams.
You'll note here that there will likely be eligibility thresholds of some kind for IGTV monetization - but what those thresholds are, or will be, we don't know as yet.
One Twitter user has suggested that the requirements could be similar to those implemented for access to the 'Swipe up' links option in Instagram Stories, which is 10,000 followers and/or a verified account.
Such a limitation would make sense, as it would enable Instagram to set some marker in order to maintain content quality. We'll wait and see what details Instagram releases as the program becomes more widely known.
Will this make IGTV a real contender in the digital video market? It's hard to say. As noted, the addition of IGTV previews in both Instagram's Explore tab and in the main feed has no doubt seen more users tapping through, and Instagram chief Adam Mosseri did note recently that IGTV is growing, it is seeing more attention over time.
The addition of more compelling content, which will now come as a result of creators being able to monetize, could make it a more relevant option. So long as it's not just re-posts from other platforms, which could limit its broader appeal.