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Will Instagram TV ever become cool, or has it been a flop?

Instagram TV (or IGTV) launched back in June 2018 and planned to compete head to head with YouTube and ‘change the social video landscape’ allowing users to publish video content up to 1 hour long – in-feed videos can only be up to 1 minute long, meaning they could create new longer-form content. Instagram wanted the new long-form feature to feel very natural and an extension of the current app. When the app first launched, you had the option to navigate directly from the Instagram app to the separated IGTV app. As the stand-alone app was also mobile-focused, all content uploaded/ filmed is done in vertical.

Vertical video is the future of social media, specifically for mobile-only brand Instagram. Historically this has been ignored, in favour of the traditional horizontal video. However, statistics show that 94% of the time, a user will be holding their smartphone vertically – suggesting we should be making content for the big majority of users.

Instagram launched its IG Stories product back in September 2016, to compete head to head with Snapchat – a vertical image or (up to) 15-second video which disappears after 24 hours. Instagram branded Stories as content that is not ‘good enough’ for the main Instagram Feed – Kevin Systrom, then Instagram CEO shared that ‘People want to share a lot more, but they don’t want it to hang on the gallery wall.’ When the product was launched, it took off very quickly – hitting 100 million daily active users within the first month. Fast forward to 2020 and 500 million accounts uses the Stories format daily.

Capitalising on these insights, IGTV launched with a couple of well-known video creators intending to bring their fans from the traditional video viewing platform YouTube, over to IGTV. However, many video creators struggled to produce high-quality content in the new vertical format. For example, LaurDIY was one of the few users who posted on IGTV the day of launch, since then she has posted 18 videos (19 in total) – comparing this to her YouTube account, she has posted almost 200 videos in the same time frame. With this in mind, it’s harder for users to be watching content, when it’s not being created.

But what does this mean for advertisers? Paid media advertising on IGTV is not available at the moment, although we do expect this to be available in the future. However, many brands are tapping into Influencer marketing on this channel, allowing brands to gain access to an existing fan base with their product or service.

Expectations were high but the hype did not last long, TikTok is the new kid in town but has COVID-19 been the rebirth of IGTV…

In April 2020, IGTV had a makeover and now aims to highlight creators to help boost usage, with the new feature to share videos to Instagram Stories. The update is more aligned to Instagram’s Explore tab, making it easier for users to discover content they may be interested in.

Since the lockdown of COVID-19 began, more beauty brands and celebrities have been posting content to their IGTV. Many celebrities have been running IG Live Videos since being in lockdown and posting them on their IGTV for many to view later.

From launch in June 2018 to January 2020 – it has been reported that IGTV has only had 7 million downloads worldwide. Comparing this to TikTok over the same date range – they had over 1.2 billion downloads worldwide.

Figures are harder to find for the UK market, however, below shows the numbers from the US market, comparing IGTV vs TikTok.

TikTok is the new kid on the block. Launching in September 2016, TikTok has rocketed to be the worlds most downloaded iOS App. It focuses on videos aimed for sharing and is dominating the market, particularly for younger users.

Available in over 150 markets across the globe, in 39 languages – TikTok has over 800 million monthly users across the globe. According to AppTrace, TikTok has jumped from 269th to 4th in global app download rank in February 2019 and remained in here since.

Although, TikTok is very heavily populated by Gen Z – with 41% if the users aged between 16-24 according to a study by the Global Web Index. Unlike many other social network sites, TikTok was launched with the under 18 markets as their target audience. On average, users spend around 52 minutes per day on the app – a highly engaged audience compared to other channels.

But what does this mean for advertisers? Advertising on TikTok is still very much in the infancy stage, however, some brands are testing paid ads on TikTok with big success. A form of advertising more commonly used on TikTok is traditional Influencer marketing – in most cases the Influencer will create the content, ensuring the brand is mentioned.

All Response Media viewpoint
Although advertising on IGTV is currently unavailable, we would encourage brands to consider the use of IGTV – long-form content might not work for all brands, however, we believe that for organic content, this has the opportunity for this to be a strong format across various verticals.

There are considerable opportunities across various industries during lockdown, to utilise IGTV to encourage brand engagement and build up a strong relationship with prospective customers. As an example, food-related brands could consider creating organic content such as recipes. Gym or health and fitness brands could create long-form content of exercises to do at home whilst gyms are closed.

Having these conversations with clients could be the perfect opportunity for them to expand into other channels such as YouTube if they see success organically.

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