Instagram Teases Hour-Long Vertical Video Feature



The move would simultaneously challenge Snapchat Discover and YouTube.

Fresh from the rumor mill: Instagram may be adding 59 more minutes of airtime to your video uploads.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app is reportedly preparing to launch a feature that would let users post long-form videos that last up to an hour long, according to The Wall Street Journal. Currently, the time limit for video content is 60 seconds in Instagram feeds and 15 seconds in Stories. While users are able to stream live videos for up to an hour, the extended time would refer to content that isn’t broadcasted live.

Over the course of the past few weeks, the social media company has engaged in conversations with influencers, creators, and publishers alike to learn more about their video channels outside of Instagram and how they could be integrated into the platform.

As far as what the feature would look like, it could simply serve and function as an extended version of an Instagram Story, but the WSJ claims that “plans are tentative and subject to change,” likely depending on the outcome of these dialogues. What is known is that the feature would support only vertical as opposed to horizontal, videos. Additionally, if and when the feature does roll out, it will live inside the main app, per the publication, versus serving as a separate app.

Despite there being a limited number of details available at the moment, there are already existing reasons why the move would make sense for Instagram. Primarily, Instagram Stories is at the top of the pack when it comes to the app’s most popular and fast-growing features, boasting roughly 300 million users per day. Further, this past April the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that the audience for digital video among U.S. adults has increased from 45 million in 2013 to 72 million already in 2018, translating to a whopping 60 percent growth in a mere five-year timeframe. Even more recently, a new Pew Research Center survey found that YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are the three most popular online platforms among U.S. teens, followed by Facebook in fourth place.

Compared to the last survey conducted in 2015, Facebook dominated the social landscape with 71% percent of teens reported being Facebook users while approximately half (52 percent) of teens claimed they used Instagram and 41 percent reporting using Snapchat. This said, it isn’t shocking at all that the company would be pursuing ways to secure more than just extra ad dollars—it wants to reclaim its seat on the throne.

Moreover, the move would align nicely with efforts by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to boost the prominence of videos across the platform. “I see video as a mega trend, same order as mobile,” he recently said during a February earnings call. The latest? Funding a portfolio of professionally-produced shows for its Watch tab with partners including ABC News, Univision, Mic, CNN, and Fox.

As TechCrunch points out, at this stage, anything is possible. This may be the start of a full-fledged video entertainment hub that houses professionally produced content on the platform (think Snapchat Discover) such as music videos and scripted shows exclusive to the app.

UPDATE [6/11/18]:

TechCrunch has since confirmed the rumors reporting that Instagram went ahead and asked reporters to RSVP for a June 20th “special event,” with the invite simply saying, “Instagram has some news to share, and we want you to be the first to hear about it.”

Here’s what else has been leaked:

  • Format: The videos will be 4K, full-screen, and vertically oriented
  • Home: The videos will live in a dedicated centralized hub organized by curated sections of popular videos. Users will have the option to continue watching clips they’ve already started. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the hub will be part of the existing Instagram app or if an entirely new app will host the destination.
  • Inaugural partners: No specific names have been leaked, though Instagram has confirmed it continues to engage in discussions with creators and social media starts as well as possible content homes leading up to the event.
  • Quality: Expect your typical Youtuber’s level of quality for these videos, not HBO or Netflix-level.
  • Monetization: The app is open to allowing creators to earn money from their content, but hasn’t pinpointed exactly what the process will look like. Options include pre-roll ads or mid-break commercials where the creator would take a piece of the revenue share.

For the latest on Instagram and other social platforms and the future of digital video, just us at SMWLA (June 12-14) at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Fewer than 90 passes remain, so be sure to secure yours today.

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