To celebrate one billion users, and in an apparent effort to challenge YouTube for video supremacy, Instagram has announced the launch of a brand new, long-form video format called Instagram TV (IGTV). IGTV will be available in a standalone app, as well as in the traditional Instagram app via an icon at top right of the screen:
At a San Francisco launch event Thursday, CEO Kevin Systrom discussed his desire for Instagram users to be able to “enjoy video without all the distraction.” Irony aside, that has actually been a pain point for Instagram users in the past; and IGTV seems to offer a legitimate solution. Now you can deliberately waste hours of your time consuming video and only video—just like you do on YouTube.
Like YouTube—and television proper—IGTV gives users access to different channels from which to stream long-form content. So—if you’re enamored with a particular influencer, or a social savvy celebrity (Kevin Hart, Kim Kardashian West, Selena Gomez, and Lele Pons have already signed on), you can expect to start seeing longer videos pop up on their IGTV channels in the next few weeks.
Also like television, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. Videos can be up to an hour long, and are presented in a full screen, vertical format. Once you’re in the app, simply swipe up to “change the channel.”
From there, either search for your favorite channel, sort through popular content, or scroll through videos crafted by the users you follow. And, like, the traditional app, you can still like, comment on, or share any video that piques your enthusiasm/interest.
General consensus seems to be that this was not just a bold move for Instagram, but a savvy one with potentially huge ROI. Influencers and brands are excited at the prospect of converting video-happy portions of their YouTube subscriber base into Instagram followers. YouTube was previously the only option for users who exclusively wanted to consume video. Instagram users no longer have to sift through the rest of the clutter in their news feeds to get the video they want.
IGTV also looks like an attempt to continue to supplant Snapchat. The format bears a notable resemblance to Snapchat’s Discovery section, where popular videos, videos crafted by friends, and other user-generated content plays on a continuous loop.
Initial market reception of the release is optimistic. EMarketer already expects Instagram to earn $5.48 billion in U.S. ad revenue in 2018. Facebook’s share price was up over 2.2 percent Thursday to nearly $202.
For advertisers, IGTV initially means nothing. There is currently no method in place to monetize IGTV—through in-video ads, or through payment of content creators. That said, you better believe ads are coming to IGTV. Systrom had this to say: ““There’s no ads in IGTV today… [but it’s] obviously a very reasonable place [for them] to end up.”
In all likelihood, Instagram will gauge how much content flows through the platform before putting an ad system in place. If it’s as much content as they’re hoping for, you can imagine a scenario where IGTV eschews Ads Manager for it’s own advertising UI. Advertisers will buy placements—say, 15 or 30-second spots—in channels streaming content related to their products. Brands will be able to leverage influencers with massive followings in a much more immersive way.
If your business is already making the most of Instagram Stories—or, even if you’re not—IGTV offers a very realistic upgrade to the organic content you’ve traditionally provided your Instagram followers. For instance, you can now repurpose—or simply repost—those Facebook and/or YouTube videos you’ve been meticulously creating and get them in front of an entirely new segment of your social following.
Uploading your first IGTV video officially creates your brand’s unique channel.
Here are some IGTV specs to keep in mind:
Like Instagram Stories, IGTV also allows you to add a swipe-up call-to-action, within which you can link to target landing pages. You can also upload IGTV videos straight to Facebook Watch.
And, in keeping with Instagram’s modus operandi to this point, these videos don’t have to be perfect. The vertical format is ideal for content created on the spot and on your smartphone; and the users consuming that content are used to user-generated, unpolished, personable material.
IGTV definitely looks like a promising new platform, and, as such, you should experiment with it early—even if it’s just repurposing already-posted videos. Brands—get in while the getting is good; and advertisers—wait for the inevitable press release announcing ad space has opened up in IGTV!
Gordon Donnelly is an SEO jedi who proudly honed his chops at WordStream for 5+ years. Today, you’ll find him at home in Boston, building Triple Whale’s world-class e-commerce analytics platform, or helping businesses of all sizes grow through SEO, advertising, and content marketing.
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