Facebook recently announced IGTV, a space within Instagram and also a standalone mobile app which will allow users to watch long-form vertical videos. This is the most recent move by Facebook to capitalize on additional placements and formats for video within its family of apps and services. There are no advertising opportunities upon rollout, though we expect this to change in the future.
Videos within the app are long-form, allowing for videos up to 10 minutes in length for users and 1 hour for larger accounts*. The content is full-screen, vertical (though horizontal is also supported), and fast-loading, with video auto-playing once users open the app.
Unlike Facebook Watch, any user can upload content into IGTV. And unlike Instagram Stories, content within IGTV does not have an expiration. There is support for links within video descriptions, which may be in preparation for future ad units.
Monetizing Instagram Success
While Facebook is seeing growth around 3% and Snapchat at 2%, Instagram is closing in on 5% growth quarter over quarter, hitting one billion monthly active users in this month. Further, younger audiences are shifting away from Facebook, while remaining on Instagram. This move is Facebook’s way of doubling down on the success of Instagram and the growing digital video ecosystem.
Facebook Watch, announced in August 2017, strategically positioned the platform as an outlet to shift video dollars away from other platforms and mediums. Expanding to Instagram, where user numbers have been steadily increasing, was the logical next step to retain reach against this audience.
While ads are not currently available on IGTV, Facebook is positioning themselves for expanded inventory options in the future. At a time where Facebook is under scrutiny for cost inflation, advertisers will be able to take advantage of placement optimization and potentially reduced costs. advertisers can prepare themselves for potential future opportunities by testing content organically in the new app to see what resonates best with users.
A Complement to Facebook Watch
Many comparisons can be drawn between IGTV and Facebook Watch. This rollout gives Facebook, brands, and curators the opportunity to think about how they distribute content through multiple different channels/placements.
IGTV can be complementary to Facebook Watch, as there is potential for brands to use each as a separate distribution channel for the same content, as they’ll be able to reach distinct audiences. Brands can also have unique content strategies across each app, such as creating unique programming for younger demographics on IGTV specifically.
A New Model for a New Time?
Instagram will be going head to head with YouTube on creator videos, so there will be a lot of scrutiny around the policies put in place on how they will monetize this content. When advertising is eventually rolled out on IGTV, we suspect that Instagram will need to adopt a much more curated approach with creators to avoid brand safety issues, similar to what exists on Facebook Watch.
Facebook might not only be exploring historically typical modes of monetization on IGTV (in-stream ads). The IGTV model and content leaves them open to be able to explore monetization beyond just in-stream. It’s likely the platform is also considering potential subscription services or an offering akin to a YouTube TV package.
*Facebook to confirm the criteria for a large account