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Instagram's '15 Seconds of Fame'

  |  June 25, 2013   |  Comments   |  

Does a 15-second video ad work on Instagram?

Even without the "threat" from Vine, this add-on video function will still be a natural path for Instagram's development, at least I believe this is the case. Anyone remember Cinemagram? Or have you heard of Wan Pai from China, the clone of Cinemagram/Vine/or whatsoever? The demand for bite-size mobile video clips sharing has been growing and it would be silly if Instagram doesn't capitalize on this trend.

Having said that, I can't stop thinking that the 15-second video recording feature is a tactic tailored for advertisers rather than competing directly with Vine. Why not just double it up from six seconds to 12 seconds?

Critics said it is the "mobile-video-sharing" battle between not only Vine and Instagram, but also Twitter and Facebook. I believe for most marketers, it won't be a simple "either or" decision. For those who have enough resources to stretch their social media footprints, they will just do both. And in this case, Instagram has more advantage because for brands that already built their channel there, they can just consider video an alternative way for content creation. Just like the way they produce either textual or visual content on Facebook. For marketers, it would not be a decision like, should we open an Instagram video account?

From the user experience point of view, Instagram video is clearly a winner over Vine. Even better, the former has already built a large community worldwide so this add-on function will be much easier for marketers to scale its reach of audience. The only drawback when viewing videos on Instagram, from a user point of view, I found the experience a bit annoying. After all, with the assistance of those artistic filters, you don't need to be an art director to create a decent Instagram picture. Whereas creating a 15-second clip is more challenging and it requires more storytelling skills and even more important, an artistic sense. So far I have seen many sloppily shot videos on Instagram and only time will tell if the mass, or even the marketers can acquire better skills in taking videos via their smartphones.

Six seconds vs. 15 seconds is a total different language too. For Vine or Cinemagram, your video clip should be more like a GIF, a moment that lasts only a few seconds is perfect for looping. While Instagram does not welcome video loop, replaying the same 15 seconds back to back might not be a good idea anyway.

But for some branded Instagram accounts, this is a perfect option when they think a picture is not good enough to convey a thousand words. Does a 15-second video ad work on Instagram? Why not? As long as you can customize it nicely and keep it really single-minded. Check out how Nike did the one for its latest basketball campaign #witnesshistory. A call-for-action message is tightly linked with the video and it doesn't look corny.


My prediction is that news networks, fashion brands, and other seasoned marketers from the entertainment business will be the early adopters in Instagram video. By nature, perhaps they will have more "video opportunities" or "15 seconds of fame" than the others.

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Rudi Leung

Rudi Leung is general manager, director of digital and social at Tribal DDB/ DDB Group Hong Kong and Guangzhou. He was formerly director of communication planning at AGENDA, an interactive agency network under the WPP/Wunderman group in Asia. He is also an exco member of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing. Rudi previously held roles as VP of Carat Media Services, creative ambassador of Yahoo HK Media Services, and creative director of TBWA\Tequila\HK. In addition to his extensive experience as a creative director and copywriter in numerous leading 4As ad agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, and Bates, he has gained wide exposure in advertising for numerous MNC and local advertisers in the last 18 years. Besides advertising, Rudi is a part-time lecturer of HKU Space since 2007. In his leisure, Rudi is an active blogger and columnist of ClickZ, e-Zone, HK Economic Journal, and MetroPop Weekly. He holds an MBA from Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from UC Berkeley Extension, and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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