These were the words of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when discussing the future of Facebook’s family of apps in their Q3 2016 round-up. There is no doubt about it: video is getting a massive push on the main social media networks. It is a development that allows marketers and advertisers to leverage far more creative ways to reach their audience.
Video & Instagram = a ❤️ story
Instagram video is hardly news. We have been able to enrich our posts with this format since December, 2015. However, fueled by the success of video on Facebook, the Instagram team has been keen to expand upon the video possibilities within this most visual of networks.
Image sharing has been at the core of Instagram’s business model since its inception. And with video now trumpeted as the medium of the moment, Instagram is building on both its video format and the options on offer to marketers for using it.
“People are creating and sharing more video, and we think it’s pretty clear that video is only going to become more important. So that’s why we’re prioritizing putting video first across our family of apps, and taking steps to make it even easier for people to express themselves in richer ways.” Mark Zuckerberg
There are over 500 million advertisers on Instagram, all of them looking for creative ways to reach their audience. Video, be it on demand or live, through Instagram or Instagram Stories, is a great opportunity for brands wanting to be first-movers. It’s no wonder that big names like P&G, Nike and Netflix jumped at the possibility of being first to test video ads, especially after seeing great success on Snapchat.
Instagram vs Snapchat: war or natural evolution?
Snapchat rose to popularity through its ability to see that users didn’t want to communicate only through static status updates. They needed something fresh, cool and as proven – ephemeral.
Facebook followed suit by introducing Instagram Stories. Again, this was a conscious adaptation to user needs and desires. And it proved a big success: as of January 2017 Instagram Stories has 150 million daily active users – out of about 600 million daily active Instagram users.
Instagram also jumped ahead of Snapchat with advertising, utilizing Facebook’s already well-established advertising machine to monetize their platform. Instagram recently announced that it is rolling out full-screen, auto-playing video ads to the Stories feature (you may have spotted them already).
In an interview with Fortune, Instagram’s product marketing director Jim Squires said that more than 70% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and businesses have posted a third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories so far.
Instagram ads come with Facebook targeting and the data gathered over many years; features that currently make Facebook the biggest advertising social media network. To top it off, Instagram will also be offering a full suite of analytics and metrics for that content, including the number of times a Story ad is viewed and commented on.
And they are not stopping there, as Squires explained:
“So we’re taking what is a great mobile ad product on Facebook and Instagram and making it even better. What I’m specifically talking about is ad load and our anticipation that it’s going to be a less significant factor as we get into mid-2017.”
Mobile is defining everything
It’s not just the big and established brands that can benefit from video. What Instagram is working towards is enabling everyone to take advantage of their tools. An innate factor for brand success on Instagram is making your posts look as organic as possible. The more production and effects you add to your message, the more users will reject it as an ad.
That doesn’t have to mean bad quality, weird angles and unintelligible sound. It just means that creative marketers now just need a smartphone and the right amount of inspiration to shoot an attention-grabbing video that blends naturally into feeds.
It should come as no surprise that Instagram’s newsfeed algorithm is also built to prioritize content made for mobile. Instagram is after all a mobile app first and foremost, with 98% of users exclusively accessing the platform via mobile devices.
Zuckerberg also sees Instagram as a way for smaller brands to optimize their mobile presence:
“What’s happening is that people are increasingly using (…) the Instagram business profiles, as their mobile presence. And we think that’s what’s working. And then we’re working hard to build products that work in-store visits and then use simplified ad products that convert them over to advertising.”
Videos and video ads are just the natural next step in an ever-evolving mobile offer. A great push for this format started with the introduction of vertical ad formats. Users just don’t turn their phones anymore, especially for an ad, and Instagram understood that. Now advertisers have even more opportunities to be creative in a format that brings more views due to feeling more native to the device and natural to the users.
Live is the shiniest new opportunity
Zuckerberg also said: “Live is growing very quickly. Part of the reason why we’re investing in it is we see that video as a medium is not only in the future going to be about people producing content that looks like traditional content and then consuming it in a static rectangle video screen. So live video we think represents an example of something new, which is video which is a medium for doing something that’s really interacting with other people.”
So it came as no surprise that Instagram gave its users the possibility to start live videos straight from the platform, both on normal Instagram feeds and in Stories. Live is definitely something that Facebook is betting big on all over their apps. This is where Facebook is king, ruling over YouTube, and it looks like their plan is to bring Instagram into that.
How does this involve ads? In their announcement for video ads on Stories, the Facebook team included both live and “formerly-live” videos. This means that the monetization of live videos is going full steam ahead.
“We have said since day one that we expect to bring advertising and other business opportunities to Instagram Stories,” an Instagram spokeswoman said for AdAge. And so they have, keeping true to their word.
What will come next for Instagram in terms of advertising? It is clear that both Instagram and Facebook aim to be the places where advertisers spend their money. And, according to hints from Zuckerberg, shopping on Instagram is where the platform will devote a significant amount of focus in the next quarters.
Considering that one of the industries best served by video is e-commerce, there is a big chance that we will eventually see brands using Instagram tools, especially video, to cover the whole sales process.
Video is certainly something that marketers should pay attention to. However, before pouring all their budget into this one format, brands must make themselves as familiar as possible with Instagram and its ever-growing advertising toolbox.
If you would like to be among the brands boosting their Instagram efforts and leveraging its ads options to increase engagement, check out our new Instagram Marketing Guide for Marketers.