Almost exactly one year ago, Instagram founder and former CEO Kevin Systrom brought journalists, content creators and fans of the platform together in San Francisco for a big announcement.After revealing Instagram’s milestone achievement of 1 billion users worldwide, he went on to unveil a new platform that would “change the social video landscape” forever. IGTV was born: a brand-new standalone app and Instagram plugin to support long-form video content.Given the success of Instagram Stories, expectations were high with Facebook’s share price immediately rising by over 2.2%.

Brands’ adoption of IGTV

Brands were initially slow to adopt IGTV. Creators, who were used to producing short-form organic videos effortlessly within the app, were suddenly required to account for music, transitions, and effects. This represents a considerable increase in investment of money and time, and not even IGTV’s original launch partners were willing to do that; creating just 5 IGTV videos on average each. On such a young channel the views were, on the whole, not sufficient to warrant the investment by brands and creators. Despite a poor initial reception, some brands have invested heavily in IGTV and excelled as a result. For example, The Economist launched a 10-minute awareness video about poaching turtles that generated more than 1.2 million views, proving that brands with the resources and genuinely compelling editorial – or educational – content can deliver results from IGTV. Creators with smaller budgets have also seen success on IGTV though. For example, Emily Henderson, an interior design blogger, takes her followers on virtual tours of homes she’s designed and typically generates over 100,000 views per long-form video.

Is IGTV improving its offering?

Content from these smaller, editorial creators proves there’s potential in the platform. Firstly, because there are no commercials, content is uninterrupted and less likely to make viewers tune out. Secondly, the creators are the channels. Fanatical users can continuously get more of the content they love directly from the creators they enjoy most, driving high engagement rates as a result.There are also promising signs that IGTV is improving its offering. Since launching, several updates have rolled out including; integrating IGTV into the main app, placing IGTV videos in the Explore tab, posting notification banners, and the ability for users to add IGTV previews to their own Stories. The two most important updates came earlier this year, however:Firstly, in February 2019 IGTV announced that content creators could share one-minute previews of their channels in their main Instagram feeds. This improved discoverability and saw IGTV videos views skyrocket. For example, cosmetics brand @sephora has seen video views skyrocket from 60 – 80,000 views per video to over a million now.In May, IGTV then announced it would support horizontal video formats. This was warmly received by industry professionals. More flexibility means an increase in content creation and a greater capacity to produce more creative and engaging videos, which in turn means more viewers. Many advertisers consider this a step on a long path towards monetising the platform.

Opportunities for monetisation

Brands can be promoted in IGTV video content, but otherwise, the platform doesn’t currently have any opportunities for monetisation, meaning creators are even less incentivised to sign up. However, rumours strongly suggest that the company is considering introducing ads soon and rewards for creators making popular videos.Immediately after the launch of IGTV last year, an Instagram spokesperson told Recode: “we are committed to helping [creators] build their careers and make a living doing this work. We’ll be exploring and testing ways to help creators monetise.”It seems opportunities to monetise IGTV are just around the corner. So how can brands and creators maximise ROI opportunities?Like Instagram Stories, IGTV features a swipe-up call-to-action, which allows brands to link to target landing pages. However, IGTV’s longer video format means more opportunity to engage users, more creative license and more potential to embed brands into the content. This could add another dimension to a brand’s recognition and messaging, beyond lead generation.Brands may also want to consider repurposing or reposting Facebook or YouTube videos with high production values on IGTV, in order to maximise reach and engage new segments of their social following in a budget-effective way.

What next?

At the launch of IGTV, Kevin Systrom highlighted the rise in popularity of mobile video content, citing a 60% increase in users watching it on Instagram between June 2017-2018. Teenagers are particularly responsible for this change in consumer habits, as they now watch 40% less TV than they did five years ago – suggesting this trend is only going to accelerate.That’s why, despite a slow start, the platform is likely here for the long run and has plenty more to offer creators, agencies and brands. As we’ve already seen with Sephora, even small functionality changes such as sharing IGTV videos to the main Instagram feed can have a big impact on brand exposure – and it looks like even more significant updates are on the horizon.One year on, it’s finally time for IGTV to come of age for brands, creators and users alike.
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