Yesterday Instagram announced a new app for long-form video called IGTV. The new functionality will roll out over the next few weeks for all Instagram users directly within the existing app, but will also be a stand-alone app. To launch IGTV, Instagram partnered with some of the top video creators of 2018, including Lele Pons, Jiff Pom, and more. 

Within the Instagram app, IGTV lives as a square navigation icon at the top right, next to the DM icon, separate from the regular feed and Stories. With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is making a move to own a larger market share of the video space, and they’re putting a big bet on vertical video. With IGTV, users will be able to post 10 minute long videos, while select content creators will have access to post up to 60 minutes, all ad-free to start. This announcement was made in San Francisco, strategically before the kickoff of VidCon 2018 in Anaheim, one of the largest gatherings of video creators in the world.

WHY IT MATTERS FOR BRANDS

Instagram is already a platform whale and expansion into longer form video is no surprise given that teens watch 40% less TV than they did just five years ago. To date, YouTube and Snapchat reign king in the video sphere, but Instagram’s expansion into longform video aims to take some of the ruler’s market share (YouTube has 1.9 billion monthly users).

Following Instagram’s original strategy of a seamless, vertical format for mobile first, IGTV will work best with intimate style videos, which seem natural given today’s selfie-era generation. In a way, IGTV is an extension of Instagram Stories, offering a new canvas for longer form vertical videos. Because it’s not live, more refined, edited video content will also work nicely on this platform.

As with any new social platform, there’s an imminent opportunity to experiment with this new format to become one of the first standout content creators. Unlike completely new social platforms such as Peach, Ello, or Vero, Instagram has the muscle of parent company Facebook to help nurture and ensure it’s growth, so it’s not likely to die quickly.

Brands should monitor how IGTV impacts the video creator space, and consider opportunities to partner with emerging and existing influencers on this new platform to share longer form branded content with an intimate look and feel. They might also consider experimenting with the new creative limitations of this format in order to share authentic stories and long form episodic content, a throwback to TV series, but in micro. Brands could use IGTV to develop and share exclusive behind-the-scenes content for unique or recurring events, sports games, or other experiences such as retail boutiques featuring seasonal looks or company thought leadership series.

For now, brands who are already producing video content for YouTube or Facebook should look to see if any of this video content is a fit for IGTV, or could be with some light editing.

ADDING IT UP

IGTV can be found within Instagram, at the top right, next to the DM icon.

While it’s true that teens are watching less TV, there are a few challenges for IGTV. How will creators react to this new vertical format? Will the top video creators migrate to the new platform? Will long form vertical video really be a thing? Asking creators to switch to an entirely new format—vertical video—requires more production work, especially for those who have established audiences on other platforms which are strictly horizontal. In order for influencers to move entirely to IGTV, there will need to be some sort of revenue sharing. This was hinted at as Instagram’s long term plan, however, at the moment, there is no financial incentive for creators to migrate.

Overall though, competition in the video space is healthy. While some YouTubers have been recently frustrated with throttling of revenue share and other restrictions, adding a new long form video service to the mix will ultimately force continual evolution in the space.

Instagram will also continue to face the same challenges Facebook and Twitter are dealing with as a media publishers, namely, how to monitor sensitive, controversial, and copyrighted content. Notoriously, this type of regulation becomes much more challenging with longer form videos.

With VidCon starting this week, we should keep an eye out to see if IGTV sparks interest and creative content from the video creator community at large.

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