Not content to rest on its laurels after attracting a billion users in the span of just eight years, Instagram has now launched a new longer-form video platform called IGTV that takes aim at media rivals like YouTube – and it’s a move that could pay off significantly for marketers.

In a posting on Instagram’s official blog, CEO Kevin Systrom calls the new offering the firm’s “most exciting feature to date.” Users will be able to watch full-screen videos in vertical form made by creators in the standalone IGTV app, or they can watch them right from inside the original Instagram app.

With a ready audience of a billion users, the potential benefits for brands are seemingly endless. IGTV doesn’t limit videos to just a minute like Instagram does; instead, they can be as long as an hour, giving brands plenty of time to get their message across. The videos start playing instantly when users open the app, making it easy for them to start watching right away.

Mobile video is expected to account for 78 percent of total mobile traffic by the time 2021 rolls around, and younger audiences have made their preference for amateur content creators more than clear. Brands that partner with influencers to come up with engaging stories can reach vast audiences here, and smart product placement or video branding could yield tremendous rewards.

Instagram won’t be paying creators for their content a la Facebook Watch, but you will be able to monetise content, possibly using ad revenue shares. IGTV isn’t trying to break into the Netflix space; the goal here is to create a place where people can easily follow their favourite vloggers and influencers.

It’s easy to start spreading your message on IGTV

The use of vertical videos is perfect for the mobile-only platform as many users prefer to see videos without having to rotate their phones. However, some social media managers might have to shoot video content for two ratios or shoot in such a way that it can be vertically cropped. Nevertheless, this small amount of effort is likely to pay off quite nicely. In addition, the audience here isn’t generally looking for very polished videos, so brands won’t have to sink too much of their budget into production quality.

In fact, Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak feels the opportunity is a particularly positive one for smaller influencers, saying: “Instagram has long been the platform of choice for both micro and macro influencers. With the rapid growth in importance of influencer marketing, IGTV will provide a platform for even the smallest influencer to reach and engage their audience with the content they like to watch.”

Creating channels and uploading videos is simple, and IGTV also allows you to include clickable links in the description of your video that take users outside the IGTV app. The cover photo provides further opportunities for branding.

The co-founder of the Influencer marketing platform Whalar, Neil Waller, said: “Brands can no longer rely on print or TV ads alone, and Instagram’s creation of IGTV represents the future. It has been built around how we would traditionally watch TV, with content launching from your favourite creators just as soon as you open the app.”

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.