When Instagram announced its video feature would allow clips as long as 15 seconds — more than twice the length of videos on Twitter’s Vine service — there was more than just one-upsmanship at play. Because 15 seconds also happens to be a standard length for short U.S. television commercials. That similarity has to be more than just a coincidence.
Big Data gets bigger
In late 2012, Facebook changed its terms of service so data about individual users could be accessed by advertisers. When Instagram was purchased by Facebook, Instagram user data was integrated with the information Facebook already collects, providing a more comprehensive view of users to advertisers.
One of the most valuable pieces of data Instagram photos, and now videos, bring to the table are geolocation tags. Information about where we live and the places we visit can be a great indicator of our income and our buying habits. Instagram videos will likely introduce a wealth of new information from geotags. Furthermore, Facebook’s advertising tools allow companies to directly target users based on their offline spending history. The more relevant ads are to Facebook’s platform and its consumers, the less likely it is that users will become upset by the ads.
The data sharing relationship between Instagram and Facebook will not only improve targeting for advertisers, but opens the door for the use of Instagram videos as an advertising platform. Vine has already proved short videos can be an effective medium for advertising. On Vine, companies are able to run promoted tweets supplemented with Vine videos. Brands are willing to pay to for these promoted posts and use them to connect with users on both Vine and Twitter.
Is video the future for Facebook advertising campaigns?
Instagram currently lacks advertisers, so the platform itself is not bringing in revenue for Facebook. However, advertising on Instagram could not only justify its purchase by Facebook, but improve Facebook’s market share. A projected $196 billion will be spent on television ads in 2013, in comparison with the projected $113.6 billion that will be spent on digital ads. With Facebook’s mobile ads struggling, advertisements on Instagram may be the solution. Furthermore, video advertising is a commodity for advertisers as it is easier to run on different devices.
If this indeed the direction Facebook is heading, the company will need to tread carefully. After the difficult launch of its “sponsored stories,” feature, users are wary of corporations popping up in their news feeds. Perhaps inserting branded content more subtly through Instagram video, users may be less likely to realize that they are looking at ads.