Changing the Landscape for Social Marketing and Advertising

Instagram is looking to give Youtube a run for its money. Launched June 20th, 2018, Instagram TV (IGTV), represents the social media channel’s expansion into long-form video content, and signals a clear warning shot as Facebook looks to move in on Google’s turf.

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom made the announcement last week at an event in San Francisco, following a live performance by several popular IG stars.

“Teens are now watching 40% less TV than they did 5 years ago,” Systrom said. “And on Instagram, people are watching 60% more video than they did just the last year.

With more than a billion users, Instagram is quickly becoming the most engaging social media channel in the world, particularly for marketers looking to engage an audience 45 years old and younger.

Systrom continued, “How we watch is changing quickly, but what we watch is changing too.”

IGTV’s key differentiator from Youtube will be its design as a mobile-first platform, contrary to Youtube (which predates the first iPhone). Content will be formatted as vertical video (9:16 aspect ratio), rather than the more traditional 16:9 “horizontal” video seen on TVs, desktop computers, and movie screens. The vertical video aesthetic brings with it a host of new creative and compositional considerations.

After all, converting a 16:9 video to vertical video — or vice versa — would create some terrible-looking content. Increasingly, mobile-friendly vertical format video content is looking to supplant all traditional video outside of television. It’s proven to have significantly higher engagement rates in side-by-side comparisons.

While IGTV is a separate app, the event also revealed that the original Instagram app will now allow users to watch and create long form videos, as well.

The rise of Instagram comes at a strange time in the life of its parent company, Facebook. The Facebook platform has been having a rough year, first with the January algorithm update spelling doom for many social publications, and then with the fallout from the privacy scandals.

Already, Facebook is warning advertisers that a substantial share of it’s audience targeting metrics will be disappearing in the next two months.

This leaves advertisers with a very different social environment to work in than they had just one year ago. As the industry moves towards more quality, direct digital ad buying, channels like IGTV could be the new standard in how audiences are reached and engaged.