Instagram launched IGTV last year, along with their announcement of reaching 1 billion users! The first thought I had was: “What is YouTube’s reaction?” it is clear that this feature is in direct competition with YouTube. Let’s dive deeper into this.
Facebook’s primary goal is “connecting the world.” They are growing effort towards videos. When compared, advertisements on video cost more, meaning there is more profit in video content. The video is more and more perceived as a platform for connection. In parallel, Instagram connects people together via rich media, with the first investment into video in 2013. It’s a communication channel that lets you share life events with your friends through posted content, short stories and direct messaging surrounding this content.
So, what is IGTV’s goal? Related to company goals, it must connect. It connects people towards their interests through longer form videos.
Target audience + pain points
- In Instagram, 15sec videos and brief, one-off stories are the extent to which videos are shared. But Instagrammers have more to showcase beyond these brief reels. Mainly, IGTV capitalizes on the growth of these “online celebrities” – newfound internet sensations making their fame on media platforms alone. Instagram mainly targeted Vine star Lele Pons, for instance, to create content exclusively for the platform.
- On the other side, IGTV captures a younger audience – millennials invested in going into rabbit holes on their smartphones and those already following these growing internet sensations. Instagram celebrities targeting young audiences + millennials looking for a cool content match made in social media heaven.
Mobile’s reach-only proceeds to grow. In Mary Meeker’s online trends, 3.4 out of 5.9 hours per day are spent on mobile and is most responsible for the overall growth in internet consumption. IGTV smartly leverages this extension by being mobile-first via its vertical-only video content. In a way, it also provides a more personalized viewing experience. It encourages videos that capture the face of the user using the front camera. It’s as if you are interacting with the user right on your screen.
- Foundational Base
Now that Instagram has 1 billion monthly users, that is 1 billion users who can immediately use IGTV! This feature comes both as a button on Instagram and as a separate app. Users on both sides are already there. Content creators already have a following. Their audience already has content to start watching. This creates an excellent base to route current users to IGTV’s platform.
- Encourages New content creators
We live in a remarkable era of the internet where we observe the rise of “web celebrities” who used other platforms such as Instagram to market themselves. A content creator said:
A new platform that does both video hosting and the marketing will make a persuasive case to switch. Actually, it makes sense for those influencers/celebrities to take advantage of IGTV because it saves them valuable time. On IGTV anyone can share content and let the content speak for itself. We don’t need to worry about fancy visual effects or polished editing. This moves away from the perky, preppy and curated Instagram feed and more towards an accurate and personalized form of creation.
- Infinite Engagement
I just understood the idea behind naming it “TV” later in the game: “It is literally a TV!” while places like YouTube, Netflix, and Vimeo let you explore a feed before watching videos, Instagram throws it back old school and provides an infinite experience of a TV. There is always playing from the minute you open the platform to the last minute when you close it. You even like and comment or interact with other users while watching.
Where YouTube is a platform for people to find something they already have in mind. IGTV lets you get sucked into rabbit holes of infinite engagement. It can be really addicting, and that is a big opportunity for creators who need this kind of engagement for their content.
What is missing?
Mr. Systrom from Instagram notes that the main focus is on experience first before monetization. That makes sense because, in its early stages, activation and engagement are the top priorities. Although, monetization is clearly the next priority to fully grow this feature. This is not clear how IGTV plans to do that. Sponsored ads are viable and more conducive for brands to add long-lasting video ads. However, there must be a right balance, so it doesn’t much disturb the user’s watching experiences.
- No content creation for content creators?
Right now, there is no way to create content on IGTV itself. One of the reasons may be due to the preservation of content quality, but this decreases the number of videos users might add on their channel. YouTube, recently declared they were launching features prioritizing content creators, which could be a compelling case to stick with YouTube.
- Downsides of Vertical
Vertical videos prioritize mobile and these creators, still, those with already large followings on YouTube & those who upload or publish content in other formats will need to shoot and edit each video twice. If IGTV is trying to steal away people from YouTube, it will take a while before they consider vertical the way to go.
While the design provides a mobile experience, it is somewhat challenging to discover videos in this horizontal scrolling formats. In the interim, a complicated algorithm can solve this until a better discovery experience can be added.
At last, a brief note on channels: what is the point of channel if you can only add one!? If the channel = creator, then what is the difference?
Wrapping it up
Currently, monetization effort is the top priority. Total spending on video ads is expected to increase from $18 billion to $27 billion in 2021, and IGTV can boost this growth. So, if I were a content creator, I would experiment with both platforms. Whichever platform allows me to earn money faster and easier, will get my attention and that is where I will stick.