Instagram is promoting IGTV videos in its main feed in an attempt to increase popularity among advertisers and influencers. IGTV is Instagram’s foray into long-form vertical video content on mobile devices. It launched last summer and was the first major update to the platform since Instagram stories was released in 2016. It helps to move Instagram into a space that has long been dominated by YouTube.
In the constant rivalry between Google and Facebook, IGTV represents a new attempt for Facebook to compete with YouTube and set up as an alternative destination for both content creators and businesses in the $1.7 billion Instagram influencer marketing industry.
IGTV is closely connected to the main Instagram platform as the same accounts are used across both formats and can be exist either through the stand-alone app or Instagram. Instagram has also worked to ease fears about IGTV struggle to attract eyes by featuring aspects of IGTV with the main app by including previews of IGTV videos in the main Instagram feed which cause subsequent views to Skyrocket.
Why IGTV and Not YouTube?
For brands thinking that they should just use YouTube, it’s important to understand how IGTV has differentiated itself from YouTube. IGTV content is presented in a vertical format with an aspect ratio of 9:16 rather than horizontal that is seen in most video platforms. IGTV focuses on mobile first which is a lucrative opportunity for Instagram and marketers alike. With Instagram, the videos on IGTV can range anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Verified or larger accounts can record for up to an hour with the eventual intention of providing this video link to all users. Creators are not limited to what kinds and formats of content they can produce.
Influencers who have a following on Instagram may struggle to translate that popularity to YouTube where the space is crowded so an Instagram based video-sharing platform can give existing Instagram influencers a launchpad for moving into video without starting from scratch. it also gives them a chance to carve out a new Niche and expand the types of content they create which in turn allows them to diversify their sponsored content and brand partnerships.
Brands will have the opportunity to reach their target audience the new ways and increase their visibility with new audiences. Google has been encouraging longer-form video on YouTube for years now and Instagram understands the marketing potential of the longer content for developing the all-important positive influencer and brand connection. IGTV is just another way for brands to exercise their marketing muscles.
Unlike Stories which took off quite well in 2016, IGTV has had a harder time getting the ball rolling. Long-form video on Instagram is still in its early stages so many creators are reluctant to start devoting their time and energy into the platform. IGTV content takes longer to shoot and edit than a simple photo or a 15-second story.
Only recently has Instagram discussed adding ads to IGTV so until now there have been limited marketing options for brands. For creators, without the advertising platform, Instagram isn’t paying for the content made by influencers, so there are few financial incentives.
The Catch-22 for Instagram
Why has it taken so long to get here? Instagram wants to make sure the platform has legs and that people are willing to stick around and view the content. If IGTV uses ads too soon, then the users may not want to stick around through mid-roll ads to see if the content is good enough. They have to make sure that they’re content creators are creating high-quality content that their audience is interested in and watching. However, when the content creator has other avenues for monetization, it’s hard for them to justify investing their resources in IGTV content creation.
Instagram has plenty of money – they earned $20 billion in advertising revenue last year, which was a major portion of Facebook’s income. But they’re not going to throw money at the platform if it’s not going to get a return on investment.
Instagram is under a lot of external pressure, from content creators who are making money on YouTube, TikTok, Facebook Watch, and Byte, with revenue-share options. IGTV needs content if they want to grow and stay relevant, but can’t expect that people will provide it without revenue-sharing.
Internal Experiments with Monetization Programs for IGTV Creators
In an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram confirms that it is prototyping an option for IGTV creators to earn money by showing advertisements with their videos. By giving creators a sustainable and hands-off way to generate earnings from IGTV, Instagram hopes they will be inspired to create more high-quality content on the platform.
Right now, Facebook watch video producers earn a 55% cut of the revenue from their ad breaks that are inserted into the middle of their content. There is no word on what the revenue split would be for IGTV, but because Facebook tends to run its ads across all of its apps with the same buying interfaces, it may stick to that 55% approach so that creators get the majority of the money earned.
In the past, Instagram only words with a limited set of celebrities paying to offset small production costs for IGTV content but did not offer a way to earn a profit. That left creators looking to sponsored content or product placement to earn money or trying to push their followers to platforms like YouTube where they could earn money from their ads. This lack of monetization may have contributed to the absence of great content on IGTV.
It’s not clear as to whether IGTV monetization policies would be different but for Facebook, they require users to:
- Follow all normal Community standards
- Share authentic content without clickbait, sensationalism, misinformation, or fake news
- Share original content they made themselves
- Avoid restricted content categories including tragedy or conflict, sexual or suggestive activity, strong language, explicit content, misleading medical information, politics, and government, and debated social issues.
What are your thoughts about IGTV ads? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.