How publishers are using Instagram’s new long-form video feature, IGTV


A week after Instagram launched its dedicated longer-form vertical video hub, publishers are posting a mix of livestreamed content, repurposed vertical video from other platforms and original features.

In the U.S., Vogue posted new versions of its “Beauty Secrets” series with actor Lili Reinhart and footage of Kylie Jenner trying out her own makeup products. BuzzFeed has been posting almost daily from its main account, a mix of content distributed on other social platforms, series like “MeCrushMonday” and more experimental 25-minute livestreams such as one featuring someone folding down all the pages of a “Harry Potter” book. It’s also posting videos of less than 10 minutes across verticals like Tasty and Nifty that have been cut from other platforms.

Tastemade UK posted talent-led recipe videos plus series called “A Taste of London,” where influencers sample the best dishes from the capital. Turner-owned Super Deluxe is posting daily vertical cuts of talent-led shows like “Cheap Thrills” with streetwear fan Tabasko Sweet. Refinery29 is posting a mix of lifestyle tips and cuts of series like “Style Out There” and “Unbothered.”

In the U.K., Bloomberg posted four videos to its @bloombergbusiness account explaining complex topics in everyday language, like how the New York skyline evolved, repurposed from other platforms.

Typically, videos aren’t much longer than 30 minutes, despite the 60-minute threshold on IGTV, with a lot of content pushing the 10-minute mark. Publishers all say that more original IGTV content is in the works.

Publishers’ IGTV videos are getting views in the high five figures, while Vogue’s Kylie Jenner video has tipped 240,000, and a nine-minute film about ecotourism in the Coral Triangle from The Economist, sponsored by watchmaker Blancpain, has a view count of 1.2 million.

The BBC has 12 different accounts posting content to IGTV globally. A video from BBC Stories, following a woman’s struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome, has had around 60,000 views and 60 comments after a week, while BBC Stories’ in-feed Instagram videos get 1,000 views. The question is how many viewers will stick around beyond the initial launch excitement. “It’s new and exciting, but we’re also cautious,” said Rebecca Donovan, senior broadcaster at the BBC. “It’s too early to draw too many comparisons with viewing figures.”

For Bloomberg, the IGTV audience retention rate is similar to what it’s seeing on Facebook and other social platforms, although the publisher wouldn’t share specific view-through rates. Tastemade UK is seeing average watch time triple what it gets on in-feed Instagram video. With no plans for monetization, publishers like The Economist are extending distribution packages to commercial partners, but the platform will need more audience data to keep advertisers interested.

“This is a chance to tell a story in the way it was meant to be — no segmentation, no breaks,” said Mohammed Ali Salha, head of programming operations at Tastemade UK. “It feels like an intuitive on-the-go way of consuming longer content. It’s true to the mobile experience in 2018.”

For now, the issue is one of resources. Success in digital media relies on efficiencies, and re-cutting video for other platforms takes relatively low effort. “Instagram wants everything to look as authentic and native as possible,” said Kevin Young, senior social media editor at Bloomberg. “We need to treat each platform differently, but balance that with the resource we have.”

“It’s a challenge for publishers to not just replicate or use it as a dumping ground for long-form video content,” added Ahmad Swaid, head of social for lifestyle magazine Dazed. “We need the creative ideas to be informed by viewing habits.” Dazed, along with other publishers, is driving people from other platforms and Instagram Stories to IGTV. A six-minute film about openly gay South Korean pop star Holland got 240,000 views collectively on Instagram thanks to Holland driving his audience to watch the film on IGTV.

But the product can evolve more to encourage sharing and linking out to publisher sites, mimicking features on Instagram Stories, said David Alter, director of programs at Economist Films.

The attraction with Instagram for many publishers is in reaching younger, global audiences: 60 percent of Instagram’s users are between 16 and 34, evenly split between genders, according to the Statista. According to Young, @bloombergbusiness, based in London, has as many followers in the U.K. capital as it does in New York. Instagram announced that Stories has 400 million daily users, twice as many users as Snapchat, and daily usage has doubled since 2017 to nearly an hour a day, according to SimilarWeb data.

As more creators, brands and publishers flood the feed with content, Facebook-owned Instagram will need to show it’s diligent at keeping it clean. “So far, there’s been little talk of how it would monitor fake news or even taste and decency,” said Young. “It will be interesting to see the quality threshold and how Instagram will deal with the issues.”

Max Willens contributed reporting.

Get more exclusive coverage and analysis around the future of video, TV and entertainment by subscribing to the weekly video briefing email.

More in Media

Immediate deepens CMP strategy, slashes ad tech partnerships for sharper data governance

Consent management platforms at Immediate aren’t just about ticking boxes for data laws.

Teads’ M&A rumors are firming up with a deal to merge with Outbrain

The latest installment of ad tech M&A activity is leaving some industry folks surprised.