A brand new feature from one of the fastest growing social media platforms has just been announced. Instagram has now introduced long-form video capabilities in the form of the brand new “IGTV”. According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, “people are watching 60% more video than they did just last year” on the platform. In addition, Instagram reports that by 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. While many feel as though the app’s integration of long-form video has been a long time coming, many more are skeptical about its potential for success.

From our CEO @kevin: “Today, we have two big announcements to share. First, Instagram is now a global community of one billion! Since our launch in 2010, we’ve watched with amazement as the community has flourished and grown. This is a major accomplishment — so from all of us at Instagram, thank you! Second, we’re announcing our most exciting feature to date: IGTV, a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favorite Instagram creators, like LaurDIY (@laurdiy) posting her newest project or King Bach (@kingbach) sharing his latest comedy skit. While there’s a stand-alone IGTV app, you’ll also be able to watch from within the Instagram app so the entire community of one billion can use it from the very start. IGTV is different in a few ways. First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long. We made it simple, too. Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests. You can swipe up to discover more — switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching.” You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct. Also like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel. Instagram has always been a place to connect with the people who inspire, educate and entertain you every day. With your help, IGTV begins a new chapter of video on Instagram. We hope it brings you closer to the people and things you love. IGTV will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on iOS and Android.

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Features of the new IGTV include:

  • Long-form video up to one hour long.
  • Vertical aspect ratio.
  • No search required.
  • Ability to like, comment, and send videos to other users via Direct Message.

The pros and cons:

Long-form video makes complete sense for a visual-based platform. The integration of hour-long videos is a great step in the right direction for Instagram and while there are skeptics, it’s important to remember the massive success of Instagram Stories. In the early days of this particular feature, many were disillusioned by the fact that it originated from a completely separate platform, dismissing them as mere imitations of Snapchat Stories. However, fast forward to today and the popularity of the “Insta” Story has completely surged. Long-form video simply makes sense for a visual-orientated app!

Another positive to come from this release is that YouTube finally has a viable competitor. Up until now, Vine was the only other video-based social media platform out there which, as we know, unfortunately couldn’t sustain itself largely due to its six second time limit. Hopefully IGTV won’t suffer the same fate as Vine, but it’s still early days so no one can really predict how successful it will be at this point.

Something that has baffled a few content creators is the feature’s deliberate exclusion of monetization capabilities. With no ads to be seen, many have been asking the question: what is the incentive for creators to upload this now encouraged long-form content? What they may have failed to recall, however, is the start of YouTube. At the beginning stages of the platform, advertising simply wasn’t available, and sponsorship deals etc. certainly weren’t the done thing. Systrom has stated:

“There’s no ads in IGTV today” but says it’s “obviously a very reasonable place [for ads] to end up.”

According to Marketing Land, there are some advertisers that have reported they are now moving their Facebook ad spending to Instagram due to the rise in ad expenses and asserts that “Instagram will also look to ways for creators to monetize their content- an effort Facebook has been focused on for a while now.”

Another issue that many Instagram users and creators have noticed is the format of this long-form video. The vertical formatting of the content means that there is a possibility that horizontal video might be fading out. Many have expressed their annoyance with this focus on vertical video to the point of complete exclusion of the horizontal format, but only time will tell whether or not a new trend in filming is on the way.

vertical video

What does IGTV mean for the future of marketing?

The main issue internet-lovers have with IGTV is its insistence on mimicking television. People flock to the internet not because it is similar to T.V., but in fact, because it is the opposite. The introduction of IGTV is a prime example of social media (video) attempting to be the same as television, despite the fact that it appeals to its users specifically because of its rejection of traditional broadcasting. Instagram have stated in their press release: “Just like turning on the T.V., IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app.” This lack of self-awareness could be the downfall not just of the feature, but of the app for its users.

What the launch of IGTV does tell us is that video is the future of online communication. While this may have been obvious to many, it’s nonetheless significant that it has happened on an app that isn’t solely video-based. YouTube was the first of its kind and it really didn’t have much competition which can be seen in its growth in popularity over that past ten years. Will IGTV become the new YouTube? While it may appear unlikely in the early stages, it has to be said that the internet has proven time and time again that anything is possible.