The Strategist

Instagram sets to compete with YouTube

06/27/2018 - 16:45

Instagram now supports videos more than an hour. Will the service be able to attract users who are accustomed to YouTube in the struggle for the multibillion-dollar video advertising market?

Anthony Quintano
Anthony Quintano
In the fight for the growing mobile video market, Instagram launched a new function IGTV with video clips up to an hour. IGTV (short for Instagram and TV) is a new application for viewing long videos. Apart from the app, the videos are available directly in Instagram. All you have to do is to update Instagram and click on the icon in the upper right corner. IGTV is available to iOS and Android users.

A big difference

Unlike regular Instagram-videos, video in IGTV is vertical and full-screen. The recommended duration is 10 minutes, and users with a large number of subscribers can post video of up to an hour-long. In the future, the service plans to allow video with unlimited duration, said Instagram head Kevin Systrom. There will be no static images, "stories" and news feed on IGTV.

The video in IGTV starts playing immediately after the app starts. The user immediately sees content from the accounts to which he is subscribed, or recommended videos based on his interests. He can switch between channels, like, comment and send videos to friends in private messages.

Instagram positions IGTV as a site with content from so-called influencers, that is, opinion leaders, including Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez, and from media companies, such as National Geographic and Vice.

Yet, not only celebrities, but also ordinary users can create content for IGTV. To do this, just click on your profile photo in the IGTV application or on the settings icon in IGTV inside Instagram, create your own channel and start publishing the video. At the same time, IGTV does not provide any special functions for video editing, so it will either have to be limited to the built-in camera, or edited in third-party applications.

Why Instagram

Instagram is clearly striving to become the main platform for mobile video and to get ahead of its main competitor, YouTube. Small videos - and until now Instagram set a limit of 1 minute – are apparently not enough.

According to Ooyala, the growth rate of watching videos on mobile is gradually stabilizing. At the same time, there remains an area in which users are increasing their activity at high rates, and it is long videos with a duration of around 20 minutes. For example, users now watch 57% of video of between 20 and 40 minutes and 45% of videos lasting 40 minutes.

With 1.9 billion users, YouTube is still dominating the long video market. But Instagram, which user base exceeds 1 billion, with the help of IGTV can potentially ruin the video service of Google. 

Money is another incentive to launch IGTV. Already, 72% of consumers prefer branded video to text ads. At the same time, mobile video advertising accounted for 72% of the increase in spending on online video advertising, and its share in this market, according to Forrester Research, will increase from 50% in 2018 to 59% in 2023.

Naturally, this market is more than attractive for Instagram. IGTV isn’t for advertisers now, but it will become a "reasonable end point," Systrom said. According to him, in the end an agreement will be reached with partners on the distribution of income, but the service will not be monetized at first.

YouTube strikes back

The online video platform is not going to give up, too. The very next day after the announcement of IGTV, YouTube also announced a number of new features that hit monetization, just the weakest point of Instagram novelty’s.

First, owners of YouTube channels with more than 100,000 subscribers will be able to sell "membership". In fact, they can invite fans to sponsor the channel for $ 4.99 per month in exchange for exclusive badges and live streams (online broadcasts), posts only for members’ community and so on. Secondly, they will be able to sell 20 brands of branded attributes directly from YouTube. This function was previously only available to selected channels in the test mode, but now it is launched for all US channels with more than 10,000 subscribers.

Finally, there is the Premieres function, which allows promoting future videos through a special page. The authors will be able to show the pre-recorded video as "live" (online), and fans will be able to communicate with each other and with the author in real time.

These new items represent new opportunities for YouTube bloggers not only to communicate with fans, but also - what is important - to monetize content without advertising. Instagram cannot offer this to its authors so far. YouTube has won only the first round, showing its superiority as a platform where people can earn using their creativity.

Despite this, several popular Instagram bloggers have already announced plans to release some series on the IGTV platform. Among them is Lele Pons, an actress and singer from Venezuela with more than 25 million subscribers to Instagram. She plans to launch a new cooking show on IGTV, but will continue to publish weekly videos on YouTube. Most likely, other video content creators will follow suit: do not put all the eggs in one basket until Instagram presents a clear strategy for monetizing IGTV.

The struggle between the two sites is beneficial to both content creators and the audience. The first will have a choice, where to communicate with fans and earn, and the second will at least have long vertical video.