Instagram Rolls Out Red Carpet For Creators In YouTube Challenge
Instagram advertising is growing gangbusters.
Despite being a fraction of the size of YouTube (YouTube reaches circa 80% of web using Aussies and Kiwis to Insta's 55%), Instagram advertising dominates its much bigger rival, in terms of marketing investment.
In 2019, Instagram was estimated to have generated revenues of $20 billion, to YouTube $15 billion.
However, one of Instagram's major marketing hurdles is running out of ads to sell.
Something which it attempted to address last year, trialling running ads back-to-back within Instagram Stories.
Or, to be more technical, beginning to maximise its ad loading capacity. Something which threatened to slowdown Facebook's growth trajectory, back in 2017, before it began shoe-horning ads into every spare pixel on the platform.
As of today, Instagram only has there ad placements:
For comparison, Facebook offers:
- Facebook News Feed
- Facebook Stories
- Messenger Stories
- Facebook Marketplace
- Facebook video feeds
- Facebook right column
- Messenger inbox
- Facebook groups feed
- Facebook in-stream videos
- Facebook search results
- Messenger sponsored messages
- Facebook Instant Articles
Without even considering the Audience Network, which offers another three placements.
If Instagram is to maintain its stellar growth trajectory, it needs to find new places to run ads and quickly.
Parent-company Facebook's ad growth slowdown is well documented. Therefore, over the next 2-3 years, the majority of Facebook's growth will come via Instagram.
So…where should Instagram open up next for marketers?
IGTV – Lame Duck To Swan?
For the uninitiated, IGTV is Instagram's fledging YouTube challenger.
In 2018, IGTV was launched as a new platform, with a bold vision to "change the social video landscape" forever.
Former CEO, and co-founder, Kevin Systrom claimed that it was "time for video to move forward and evolve."
This bold new vision essentially amounted to regular social videos, but vertical.
With an option to be quite long.
And with no search functionality.
After a few months, the hype died off, users and influencers lost interest, with the latter doubling down on YouTube video instead, and IGTV struggled.
The past year has seen Facebook trying desperately to revive the product, iterating on IGTV's design and concept; integrating with Stories, tying in with Explore, allowing horizontal video and much more.
During this window, IGTV video performance has quietly crept up, and up. Not dissimilar to how Facebook revived its own, failing Stories offering.
In a sign of how far IGTV has come, following its failed launch, Instagram last week revealed plans to insert in-stream video ads into IGTV video content, working with select Creators (i.e. influencers) on the project.
IGTV Video Ads In The Pipeline
According to Bloomberg, Instagram started reaching out to its top video creators last week, asking them to partner on ad tests.
As per YouTube's partner arrangements, those in the program will receive a 55% share of all advertising in IGTV, with ads on the way in the next few months.
Justin Osofsky, Instagram Chief Operating Officer
"This is another step forward to help creators monetise with IGTV. To be sure we get this right, we are talking to a few emerging creators to help us test this and plan to expand slowly."
More video ad inventory has obvious appeal for marketers on Instagram, but the question is, will enough Creators jump on board?
Instagram has thus far shown a limited appetite to commission video content for IGTV, akin to Facebook Watch or even Snapchat's 'Snap Originals'. Therefore, the ability to generate real, direct income from IGTV has obvious appeal for Creators and publishers alike.
After a painful couple of years, IGTV might yet come good.
While the ads will likely take a little while to get out of the testing phase, it might not be a bad idea for marketers to finally jump on board IGTV and ride the rising organic tide.