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IGTV - The Start of Something Good


Luke Ricci, president/EP at Bullitt, on the opportunities of Instagram’s latest longform offering

IGTV - The Start of Something Good
Oh where, oh where, have the broadcast TV budgets gone? Oh where oh where can they be?  

I hear this sentiment echoed like a broken record at industry events, dinner parties, from production professionals on set in between takes, and I think I even hear the wind whispering the question to me sometimes when I’m riding my bicycle through Griffith Park. The heyday of broadcast TV advertising is history, and that’s a fact that brands, agencies, content creators, and platforms are all contending with now. By 2020 digital will dominate with nearly 50% of overall media spend as brands shift away from traditional TV (eMarketer, 2018). The repercussions are staggering. Content distribution has been stratified to the point of utter chaos and brands, and companies who create content on their behalf, are trying to get a foothold on the new landscape at the same time the dust settles. 

On a daily basis I’m searching for beacons of promise to indicate that market forces are working and providing hope to the very brands, agencies, and content creators that are eager for distribution alternatives for branded content and commercials. While there is no singular solution or answer to how advertisers can now get a similar ROI for their broadcast budgets, the launch of IGTV offers this promise. At a time when 76% of viewers are skipping-through TV ads and blocking online content they don’t want to watch (ORC International), AI-powered algorithms that provide hyper-relevant messaging may very well prove to be content’s saving grace. 

As such, any initiative that pushes the status quo gets my applause even if they have aspects that are evolving. This feeling holds especially true when I think about platforms. I did some research, and have experimented with IGTV both through the endemic tab within Instagram and also in the stand-alone IGTV app, and below are what I think make it a very strong place for brands to participate in displaying content to audiences and reaching potential consumers:

User base: The ultimate litmus test for me is user base, and with Instagram just crossing the 1 billion-account mark, this is the most compelling metric and basic need that a platform must have in order to be successful. The audience is there for advertisers to reach.

Accessibility: People now spend more time watching video on their mobile devices than on their TVs. Going forward, the trend towards mobile video consumption will only continue. IGTV gives brands another way to reach audiences in their native viewing environment. Instead of asking audiences to come to us, we’re bringing content directly to them. More so, the potential for sharing is far greater in a social platform designed for that expressed purpose; 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others (Invodo, 2017).

Content Length: At a range of 15 seconds to 60 minutes, there is an incredible opportunity for brands to produce many different types of content for users. This wide range of length is an incredible asset that allows content creators to customise length for a given objective and not be constricted to strict length parameters. The good news is that viewers are increasingly receptive to extended video lengths on their smartphones, watching long-form content (20-40 minutes in length) to completion nearly 57% of the time (Ooyala, 2018). Hopefully all videos will be the absolute perfect length. ☺

Novelty: Touting vertical video as its signature format is a bold move. Though very controversial, it’s a solid step forward in carving IGTV a unique space. Purists will undoubtedly dismantle vertical video’s merit, but here’s the simple truth: whether IGTV is a vertical video format or not, turn the screen 90 degrees and it’s once again a traditional and familiar aspect ratio. And ultimately, vertical video is now a legitimate format optimised for certain messages.

Easy Expansion for Influencers: Perhaps one of the most important benefits of IGTV is that Influencers now have the ability to create long-form video content within the same platform family tree. This inevitably eases consumer engagement from an IG account or post to a piece of IGTV content.  

Customization: My hope is that brands will utilise IGTV to develop more premium video content in longer formats. Unlike mass-messaging like broadcast TV, in which everyone sees the same information that may or may not be relevant to them, platforms like IGTV enable brands to reach audiences with content tailored to their specific interests. As a result, audience engagement not only goes up, but so does the ability for a brand to deploy messaging against specific business objectives. With IGTV, everybody — both brands and audiences — win.  

The aforementioned aspects of IGTV are by no means an exhaustive list, but seem to be the most salient initial qualities that make me think the platform will be a phenomenal place to disseminate brand messaging in an entertaining context.  

I love that Instagram has expanded into longer form video because it’s a familiar face in a new space that I don’t have to travel off of my own beaten path to experience. In a world where new platforms and OTT video providers are born daily, it’s nice to have a new streaming platform that leverages a massive existing user base with long-form content. Now, we just need to start creating it.

Luke Ricci is president/EP at Bullitt
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Magnetic Field, Fri, 13 Jul 2018 13:37:29 GMT