Instagram TV: a platform with potential to change social media

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The world is a complicated place. Even more so if we are talking about media and all the diverse platforms that are cropping up around every corner. Just recently Instagram reached one billion monthly active users.

One billion. Let that sink in.

To put this into perspective, Facebook (as of Q1 2018) has two billion monthly active users. Let’s not forget that Facebook has been around for a lot longer, meaning that Instagram has seen a rags to riches kind of rise that has defeated all the odds. And when everyone laughed at the price that Facebook paid for Instagram when it was acquired in 2012, its clear to see now that Marc Zuckerberg was, as usual, quite prescient.

Reaching one billion active users has also marked the beginning of the new venture, IGTV. Instagram now has a TV channel. Sort of.

Instagram says the launch of IGTV is driven by the fact that younger audiences are spending less and less time watching traditional TV so there’s an opportunity to bring this TV viewing experience to mobile audiences. Instagram isn't the only ones either.

Amazon is setting up its own ad funded free-to-air TV business in Europe (putting aside for a second the massive presence of Amazon Prime alongside with Netflix). Disney has also been working for a very long time now on its video streaming platform to compete against the big boys. And last but not least, let us not forget Facebook TV, launched a year ago, as well as its latest announcement regarding the launch of Oculus TV, designed to explore watching TV on a virtual reality headset. It’ll be interesting to see how that is going to work out.

IGTV looks to be focused on building its content credibility first and foremost, collaborating with celebrities and influencers to create content that will attract their followers to the platform, while leader brands such as the BBC have immediately jumped onto Instagram TV, literally within weeks of it launching, to reach and engage with its younger audiences.

Maybe not all these platforms offer advertising possibilities just yet, but most likely they will. Certainly, it’s not clear what commercial formats IGTV will ultimately offer so it seems the opportunity for brands to get involved right now is to work with influencers and look to create their own content for the channel.

So how do advertisers wanting to invest in video navigate these treacherous waters? What if you have a bit of budget set aside and can afford pretty much any option; how do you make an informed decision among all these platforms? What then? The risk of too much information and too many possibilities can be to simply to freeze in the uncertainty of what to choose. Maybe it’s just easier to plan and buy (and that was it) analogue TV. But rather than look at this complicated panorama with uncertainty and shy away from it, we should embrace it together and recognise the fact that the more alternatives there are, the more ways there are to reach your target audience.

Francesco Granati, senior account manager, Videobeat Networks

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