News just came out : Instagram launched its new app IGTV, for long-form videos. “Youtube’s new contender”, “an enhanced Boomerang”, IGTV has been dubbed many things though its still relatively new existence. Announced on Wednesday at an event in San Francisco, the app that gathers 1 billion active users a month decided to take a new step in supporting online creators.

Infographic of Instagram facts

©ivesaquino

But what is IGTV exactly?

Before IGTV, the only way for people to post longer content on Instagram is to go live. But since live videos don’t contain ads and with its huge internal community, it was long overdue before IGTV comes out with a new way to cater to video creators.

As said above, the app aims at hosting long format videos. Currently, the time limit caps at 10 minutes, with an hour limit for bigger, more influential account. As time goes by, IGTV wants to suppress all time limitations for everyone. Anyone can upload videos, either from the dedicated app or from Instagram itself. The videos are pre-recorded, although a live option can be brought up in the future.

The main thing that sets it apart from what is already existing in the market is that the videos are all in portrait mode. The goal is to make a “mobile first” video watching platform, and such format allows people to watch content without turning their phones around. Videos shall then be no bigger than 3.6GB and in a 9:16 size.

The app is designed to make it easier to find and watch videos on the mobile phone. Since most video apps require you to search or browse for content before watching it, IGTV, on the other hand decided to have the content directly playing once you enter the app.

How does it work?

IGTV is available on both its own app and the Instagram page. This gives people the option to choose the way they want to access the content, directly from an account they follow or from the app itself. The dedicated app’s experience goes seamless, since as soon as you enter a video instantly starts playing, similar to how one would turn on a TV.

IGTV's overview screenshot

IGTV videos will appear as a series of rectangular thumbnails at the bottom of a creator’s page. Once you tap on one, the video goes full screen. If you swipe up, you can discover more content through four different tabs: “For you”, “Following”, “Popular” and “Continue Watching”. You can also like, comment or share the video via direct message.

The app’s feature does not contain ads yet. But it has been reported that video adverts typically require a higher fee than other types of online displays. In 2017, an average of 16 billion dollars has been spent on online video ads. It would then be no surprise if they start being implemented. The goal of the brand is to focus on engagement first, and later on, build a revenue-sharing system that can benefit both the influencers and the companies.  

Another notable thing is that contrary to Instagram where content can only be updated through mobile devices, IGTV will enable people to upload on desktop and clips will get a unique link.

So, does this mean that TV is dead?

With the arrival of platforms like Netflix, Hulu or YouTube red, the early warning signs of television’s downfall were already there. Nowadays, people spend more and more time on their laptop, or even their phones, and less and less time in front of the TV. This is especially true for the younger demographics, who is really difficult to reach via TV or radio.  

But does that mean that we should forget all the other ways to consume content on the internet? It seems like it is too early to tell, as each has their own advantages. Although youtube videos are on landscape forms, it also enables people to play the videos on a laptop or even on a TV. These seem to not go hand in hand with vertically formatted videos, such as IGTV.

Young man looking at his smartphone

As 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online “almost constantly”, there is definitely some leeway for video platforms fitting these new lifestyles. Instagram fully understood this data and decided to cater to their consumption, since they are increasingly consuming video on mobile devices. As they are watching 40 percent less TV than they did just five years ago, it is the natural next step to shift to more on-the-go way to consume content.

An influencer support system

IGTV is made for influencers, and it aims at catering to their needs. The first feature to enhance influencers is that you won’t miss their content. When you follow hundreds of accounts, it is pretty easy to miss content from your feed, especially since Instagram changes your feed depending on its algorithm. With IGTV, you can watch all the content created by your favourite YouTubers with no risk of missing anything.

Although the catalogue of creators is still restricted as the app is in its very beginnings, you can already enjoy a wide variety of subjects, from cooking videos to news reports or even travel logs.

Here are some videos you can already check out!

The app launched along with a group of pre-selected video stars, including publishers like National Geographic, which has more than 88 million followers on Instagram, and brands like Benefit cosmetics. But it will be open to anyone who uses Instagram over the coming weeks.

What about the companies?

With its ad-free beginnings, IGTV offers limited ways for companies to advertise their products on this specific platform. Since 80% of Instagram users also follow a company account, it makes sense to be present on several platforms the app introduces. Companies can take example on makeup brand Benefit, who has opened its own IGTV account and makes full use of it as a content creator. Having no ads in between videos is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed it may even seem more natural for viewers, who have become more and more aware of advertisements on the internet, and can easily detect these practices.

Another way to go about this is to directly engage with influencers. This provides some further advantages, such as a wider reach. Indeed, the number of people posting content is still relatively low, therefore your campaign has more probability to reach an audience.  Another consequence of having such few accounts on IGTV also means that the influencers are ready to accept a lower price.

IGTV combines both advantages of TV with it’s never-ending, immediately available stream of content that only aims at increasing its overall quality, and social media. Indeed, companies can now benefit from the authenticity and speech that is specific to the internet platforms and influencers representative of such, as well as adapt it to longer-form videos. This brings new and exciting opportunities on all sides, which is why IGTV’s progression is carefully surveilled.