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What can IGTV learn from failed online video platforms?

What can IGTV learn from failed online video platforms?

Phil Ranta is head of creators at Mobcrush. Prior to this he managed online talent at Fullscreen. 

YouTube has a new challenger!

YouTube is king and it has worn the crown beautifully for the past 13 years. Its library is huge, its search engine is great, and it figured out a way to monetise content better than anyone else.

Long live the king

Due to YouTube’s ubiquity and simplicity, there have been few viable competitors in the space.

But Instagram is both simple and ubiquitous, and so IGTV is a real threat.

It’s IGTV’s game to lose, but success is far from a foregone conclusion. Here are some lessons that other online video destinations had to learn the hard way:

  • You have to care about brand safety. Instagram creators have made big money from branded content. But there’s a huge difference between one-to-one deals on specific profiles and selling media against a platform. A quick look at the ‘Popular’ feed on IGTV shows, of the first 10 videos, only three that are brand safe (all in the beauty /style category), one thumbnail that’s a close up of buttocks in a thong, and two showing people smoking marijuana. They could be ramping up to their own Adpocalypse.
  • You have to take care of your creators. Snap learned this far too late. It is often cited as a major contributor to Vine’s demise. It’s the reason YouTube is announcing new monetization efforts for creators. If you aren’t providing creators value equal to or greater than the value they’re providing to you, they won’t stick around. Creators are smart.
  • You have to curate content carefully. Right now IGTV is fun, but it’s a mess. It’s like the early days of Snapchat (arguably, the current days of Snapchat). Creators that are aggressively pumping out content are dominating my feed, which isn’t a great experience for me as a viewer. It’s making me realise that I follow far too many random people on Instagram and has led to a boatload of unfollows. Once they start offering smarter algorithmic recommendations beyond ‘Following’ and ‘Popular’, I’ll have a much better experience. The ‘For You’ section right now isn’t bringing me any value.
  • You have to build your own stars. Some creators have perfected one social platform and are terrible on another. It’s the reason why the top YouTube stars did not become the top Vine stars. We can’t assume the top stars on Instagram that are focused primarily on images are also going to be the top flip-through video stars. Therefore, IGTV needs to make sure there’s a pathway for new voices to break through the noise and become the new faces of the app.

So will IGTV fail? I wouldn’t count on it. They have cool-factor, scale, excitement from creators, and amazing buzz.

Now it’s time for IGTV to get to work.


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