Instagram Introduces Long-Form Content Opportunities with IGTV

July 25, 2018

Lauren Beerling

Background on Instagram TV

Last month, Instagram launched IGTV, a new platform that allows users to watch long-form content on Instagram. Since its release, experimental brands have approached this latest content opportunity in different and quirky ways. While the jury is out on what the best performing content will end up being, it does not look like IGTV will be a replacement for YouTube or a simple extension of Facebook Watch.

IGTV Capabilties

IGTV is now available to users through the primary Instagram mobile application or within the new standalone IGTV app. Within both, users can search for and browse videos from accounts they follow, discover other popular videos, or re-watch previously viewed videos.

IGTV vs. Other Social Video Platforms

Despite some similarities, Instagram TV is not a replacement for YouTube – there are a couple of key differences in functionally between the two that will affect how each is used. IGVT, for example, does not currently support horizontal videos and lacks YouTube’s advanced search algorithm, which not only makes the content creation and discovery processes more complicated for users and creators, but incentivizes brands to build separate strategies for IGTV and YouTube.IGTV

And while Instagram states that IGTV will eventually have advertising capabilities, the current platform does not. This is a notable drawback for long-form video influencers, who will continue going to YouTube to reach their audience and grow their business.

But where does IGTV fit alongside its parent company’s video platform, Facebook Watch? Instagram’s focus on vertical video and its initial lack of advertising indicate that the company is concentrating on capturing the spirit of video creation by building a highly engaged and connected community.

It is also likely that YouTube will continue to serve as an all-purpose platform for creators to showcase their most polished work while Facebook Watch continues to find its own unique position. For now, IGTV’s place in a brand’s marketing mix will be for those looking to create unique and vertical episodic content.

IGTV Video Length & Specs

Videos published on IGTV can be up to 10 minutes for most creators. Select partners, however, can upload up to 60 minutes of content in a single video episode.

IGTV videos must also meet the following specifications:

  • File Size: Up to 650MB for 10-minute videos and 3.6GB for 60-minute videos
  • Format: Vertical Video (9:16)
  • File Type: Uploaded as .mp4
  • Thumbnail Image: Uploaded as .jpg

How Brands are Using IGTV Today

Major brands like National Geographic, Chipotle, Netflix, Nike, Everlane, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Warby Parker are all testing content, ranging from fun one-off creative pieces to long-form interviews. Specific examples include:

  • National Geographic, one of the most followed brands on Instagram, has posted one episode of their “One Strange Rock” show
  • Chipotle created a “Mary Poppins” inspired video of a man removing a seemingly endless assortment of Chipotle burritos, chips, and other menu items from a brand to-go bag, showcasing how customers can create limitless combinations at Chipotle
  • Netflix used Instagram’s new 60-minute video feature to play a full hour of actor Cole Sprouse eating a burger
  • Nike posted an animation featuring Cristiano Ronaldo as part of its World Cup campaign
  • Everlane took its #DamnGoodDenim Day photo series and created a video for IGTV
  • Louis Vuitton and Gucci both shared videos from recent fashion shows
  • Warby Parker re-posted an Instagram Stories interview with a graphic designer who uses the company’s glasses to create her designs

What IGTV Means For Marketers and Video Content Creators

Although meant for long-form, episodic videos, IGTV is a brand-new platform where the ideal content formats have yet to be defined. To understand which types of content to prioritize, brands with video capabilities should edit and test existing assets against new styles of video of varying length to understand what followers engage with most.

Additionally, marketers and advertisers should watch closely for paid advertising opportunities. Given the extended length of content available on IGTV, several different ad formats could arise, including pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, as well as sponsored videos.

Finally, although it is unclear which metrics Instagram will eventually provide to creators (and advertisers) beyond views and view duration, marketers should start to evaluate IGTV efforts against overall business goals. Success metrics and KPIs based on views and average view duration should be defined to help determine the performance of videos created for the platform.