Marketers still lagging as consumers shift to vertical video

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 2 August 2018
James Scquires

Gone are the days where people would turn their phone horizontal to take a photo or video. Today, driven by the rise in popularity of Instagram Stories and Snapchat, millennials are embracing vertical video and it’s time for marketers to do the same, Instagram global head of business James Squires said.

Speaking to AdNews while over in Australia, San Francisco-based Squires said a recent study from Instagram found 70% of millennials don’t turn their phone horizontally to watch video.

“I’m seeing how marketers are using Instagram and there is a shift that has happened, which Instagram is at the forefront, on moving to vertical video as the medium of choice,” Squires says.

“Consumers have made the shift but marketers haven’t caught up. There is some advertising work that’s happening on the platform but not at the rate consumers have moved.”

This shift has been propelled by the popularity of Stories – a format which was copied from Snapchat back in 2017. Squires said Stories was the “biggest change to the platform” in Instagram’s short history and users have embraced sharing spontaneous moments instead of the highly curated images often shared via the main Instagram feed.

Instagram Stories have been a powerful channel for increasing brand awareness organically, but somewhat limiting in what marketers could do in terms of video, which is why the platform has just invested in another avenue for marketers; IGTV.

Building off the success of Stories, and the demand for longer form video, Instagram launched IGTV last month – a function that allows Instagram users to share videos up to an hour in length through the main app or a separate dedicated app.

While the monetisation plan for IGTV is still unclear, longer length video content could see Instagram test pre-roll or mid-roll ads. Content makers may flock to it early just to get exposure and build their fan base.

Squires, who is currently on a national tour talking to Australian marketers, is confident the future is vertical video.

“Marketers that are not good at vertical video, or are not doing it yet, need to move fast,” he said.

“Australia is a really important country for Instagram because it's growing incredibly fast.”

He’s also encouraging brands to explore IGTV while it’s in its early stages. He said Fenty Beauty is a brand that is currently leveraging IGTV, running branded content on the platform through the use of influencers.

While brands can create content that runs for 60 minutes, he views two or three minute videos as the sweet spot for brands exploring the new platform.

Snapchat and Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, have been investing in longer form video in recent months that compete with TV-like programming.

Facebook has been testing Watch in the US and Snapchat launched Shows earlier this year.

Scquires said IGTV isn’t Instagram’s version of Facebook Watch.

He explained that Facebook Watch is focused on commissioning highly produced shows, whereas IGTV will orientate around user generated content (UGC).

IGTV has already been welcomed by YouTube influencers, like Lele Pons and King Bach, and Scquires hopes more will get on board.

Social media influencers have been turning away from YouTube as backlash mounts around their ability to monetise content.

Monetisation for influencers is also a focus for IGTV, Scquires said.

“We like to call influencers creators. Creators can do branded content inside of IGTV as a way to monetise their content. Then overtime, we’ll look for other avenues,” he said.

In June this year Instagram hit one billion users. That huge audience could be a powerful draw for IGTV, the longer-form video hub it’s launching for creators today. 

See: 'Just like TV'; Instagram launches new long-form video platform

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