Few hours after the global outage of all the social media platforms owned by Facebook, Instagram announced that it is merging its long-form IGTV(Instagram TV) format with the regular videos from users’ feeds, leaving just one format for all Instagram footage and the merging of posts and video insights into a single metric. This announcement was made on Tuesday, 5th October 2021, by Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri who said, “It’s no longer a photo-sharing app,” and is in stiff competition with TikTok and YouTube, adding that the company is prioritizing the move to video.
Instagram takes this new step towards the big goal of making video a more central part of the Instagram experience, integrating IGTV’s feature videos and Instagram feed videos into a new format simply called “Instagram Video.” The changes which are rolling out globally, starting today across both iOS and Android, will ensure that videos, both longer and shorter, will be found on users’ profiles in a new “Video” tab.
The move might help Instagram-based creators, while they’ll still have to produce a long-form video to qualify for ads (now called Instagram In-Stream video ads), they should have an easier time reaching viewers who would have glossed over IGTV in the past.
Instagram is also bringing a few common editing hallmarks to its videos, which include trimming, filters, location tags and people tags. Picture images have had filters and tags for a while, but with this new feature, motion images will be on the same level, as it is expected to make it easier to find videos linked to friends. When watching videos on Instagram, users will be able to tap anywhere on the video to enter a fullscreen viewing mode, and after watching, they will be able to choose to keep scrolling to discover more video content from creators or tap the back button to exit.
None of these changes is expected to impact what Instagram is doing with Reels. The company’s short-form video platform and TikTok rival will continue to remain separate; as they will not be mixed into this feed of videos if users choose to scroll.
Prior to this change, IGTV was already losing ground as a standalone product and brand and in early 2020, Instagram dropped the orange IGTV button from Instagram’s home page due to lack of traction. The move came at a time when, at most, just 7 million of Instagram’s 1-billion plus users had downloaded the standalone IGTV app.
As of August 31, 2021, the firm estimates the app saw 18 million installs globally across the App Store and Google Play. Instagram had explained its decision to pull out the button by saying that most Instagram users were finding IGTV content through the previews shared to the Feed and in Explore. But the reality was that IGTV as a standalone product was largely leading to clutter and confusion in the flagship app, critics and creators argued, while failing to drive a large number of downloads to the standalone IGTV app.
The IGTV app, however, isn’t going away. Instagram said it will now be rebranded as “Instagram Video” and will host the “Instagram Video” formatted content, along with Instagram Live videos. But it will not host Reels videos. With the recent update, users can still upload non-Reels videos in the same way they did before, by clicking on the plus sign (+) in the top-right corner of the Instagram home page and selecting “Post.” Videos can last up to 60 minutes. Longer videos, which were previously identified as IGTV videos, will continue to show 60-second previews in the Feed.
However, if the video is ad-eligible, the preview will remain 15 seconds long, as before. With today’s changes, “IGTV Ads” will no longer be referred to as such. Instead, they will be referred to as “In-Stream video ads.” Long-form video creators can continue to monetize their work, and brands can use the format as well. And, as before, the videos will be included in Instagram’s revenue-sharing tests with creators. Instagram, on the other hand, notes that if businesses want to boost their videos to reach more people, they must be no longer than 60 seconds, and creators will still be able to cross-post their videos through Stories and share through Direct Messages.
Instagram’s goal with these changes will be a more streamlined video experience. However, by keeping Reels separate, the app will still differentiate videos by length. But this is similar to how YouTube is addressing the TikTok threat, by introducing a new feature known as YouTube Shorts, which has its own dedicated button in the YouTube app, just like Instagram Reels does. YouTube Shorts allows anyone to connect with a new audience by using only a smartphone and the Shorts camera in the YouTube app. Its creation tools make it simple to create short-form videos of up to 60 seconds in length using YouTube’s multi-segment camera.
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