By Manuela Nogueira

Instagram Makes the Leap to Long-Form Video

By John McInerney, Senior Vice President

Most would agree that Instagram has staked its claim as the go-to social platform for static and short-form content from influencers and brands. Now the platform is launching IGTV, a standalone app that empowers creators to develop and publish long-form vertical video content.

This new option has major implications for brands, consumers, competing social platforms and creators alike. Early adopter brands are already jumping in and experimenting with content.  While many are simply repurposing content they had intended to post as an Instagram Story, others such as Netflix, Chipotle and Nike are creating custom content for the channel. Below are a few key observations on how the new offering will impact all:

  • Instagram is now a global community of one billion users and the platform has done an outstanding job adapting to consumer preferences, launching Stories and Direct Messages to meet user expectations. With this in mind, IGTV is mobile first; it was built for how we consume video on our phone. All videos will be full screen and vertical.
  • While most video apps require users to search or browse through a directory to start watching, IGTV starts playing video the moment users open the app, similar to TV. This plays into the “lean back” mode (taking repeated consumer action out of the mix), making IGTV a powerful new place for potential ads in the future.
  • Unlike Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute; IGTV allows all creators to upload videos up to 10 minutes directly, and larger accounts to upload videos up to one hour long. Over the long term, Instagram expects to let all users post videos of unlimited length.
  • There are currently no ads on IGTV.
IGTV screenshots

We believe all of the above positions Instagram to provide a compelling new offering with IGTV. We’re carefully watching the roll out of this new app for its impact on brand-made content and influencer partnerships.

Predictions and Key Trends to Watch for

1. Through curation of creators and publishers’ video content, Instagram could become the reliable place to watch videos on the small screen. Additionally, full-length videos mean users may stay in the app longer, making Instagram a key platform in integrated marketing campaigns.

2. For consumers, IGTV should be simple and intuitive. As mentioned, IGTV starts playing as soon as consumers open the app, so consumers do not have to search or browse to get started. It is also easy to multitask (similar to how consumers watch Netflix).

3. Instagram essentially created a stand-alone app and easy integration of long-form content into the existing Instagram app. This could disrupt the current landscape where YouTube is the clear primary channel for creators making longer-form content. Many creators may shift their primary long-form-content output to IGTV since Instagram is seen as a more personal, curated platform where creators can establish and maintain relationships with their communities

4. While IGTV offers promise as a new option for influencer, it does not yet have monetization in place the way YouTube does. Influencers may hesitate to invest in creating video that is shot vertically since it cannot be repurposed on YouTube. For this reason, content partnerships funded by brands could be a great way for influencers to explore posting on the new app.

5. Brands that move swiftly and seize the opportunity to post new content on IGTV will enjoy limited competition in the early days. Beyond eyeballs, brands can demonstrate their agility and engage with consumers who have an affinity for brands that find new ways to meet them where they are.

6. For influencers and content creators, the new time limit gives great flexibility. Still, we would recommend IGTV videos be shorter than the one-hour time span (similar to YouTube vlogs). In addition, creators should tread lightly with creating long videos due to the native behavior of Instagram. Starting with 1-2 minute videos out of the gates will give creators and brands the chance to observe and learn how users react to this new type of content

7. Additionally, IGTV lets creators develop Instagram channels full of their different videos that people can subscribe to. We believe this creates a new means for connecting people with their interests rather than solely following personalities. Creators are also able to put links in the description of their videos to drive traffic elsewhere, which is a major consideration (given Instagram posts do not include this feature).

8. Although there are currently no ads or commercials on IGTV, we view this as a potential powerful place for sponsored content and influencer collaborations. It is also an opportunity for more agile brands to experiment and adopt early to connect with consumers who crave content and explore new platforms out of the gates.

Zeynep Tolun, Vice President, and Liza Dorison, Account Supervisor

About Edelman Digital

Edelman Digital is the digital advisory and integrated marketing arm of the world’s largest communications marketing firm. Our global staff, in over 65 offices worldwide, is built to manage the complexity of modern marketing and online reputation, using a data-driven social-first storytelling approach designed to deliver real-time business results. We believe in exploring future-forward technology to advance the stories we tell. The output of our work delivers experiences that transform culture, reputation and relationships to inspire real-world action between brands and consumers.