Instagram has entered the era of moving pictures. But instead of the six-second, multi-scene videos that run in a loop on Twitter's Vine app, Instagram users will get 15 seconds. Instagram's co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom says 15 seconds strikes the "right balance" between not being too long or too short, but it also happens to match up rather nicely with the 15-second TV spot.
"This is the same Instagram we all know and love, but it moves," he says. "It plays once. It doesn't loop. It doesn't get in the way. It fits right into Instagram."
Instagram is a tool to remember moments that might otherwise be forgotten, he says. "However long life is or however short life is; we know we may never get that moment back."
When Instagram first launched in 2010, "we left video on the side," he adds. "Today all that changes and Instagram is going to be at the center of it."
While video capture and sharing is certainly nothing new on mobile, Instagram's massive community and reach makes it an instant force in the space. Since Facebook acquired the company for $1 billion in April 2012, the size of the team working on the product (which is still operated independent of Facebook) has tripled and the number of users has more than quadrupled to 130 million monthly active users. More than 16 billion photos have been shared on Instagram to date and at least one billion photos are liked every day, says Systrom.
Instagram's foray into video just solidifies the fact that social, like so many other industries, is being driven by two competing giants - Facebook and Twitter, says J Barbush, VP and director of creative social media at RPA.
"From an advertiser point of view, we're used to telling stories in 15 seconds. Six seconds was a whole new world for us, for everyone. So there was a lot of experimentation going on," he says. "Obviously advertisers aren't and shouldn't just put 15-second spots in and try to do that. But they know that 15 seconds at least is a comfort zone of being able to tell a story, whatever that story is in that time period."
Instagram's vision for video, which includes greater editing control, 13 custom filters, and image-stabilization technology, seems to be addressing a different audience, Barbush adds.
"I think the Vines live in more of the free-spirited GIF world of looping, and just sort of the world that Tumblr has created in that way," he adds. "The six seconds gives you a little bit more opportunity for some spontaneity and showing the fun-loving side of the brand…You need to get super creative within that time period."
Cameron Friedlander, VP of global innovations at Designkitchen, sees similar creative differences and believes that will impact business objectives available to marketers on Vine and Instagram. "I still think Vine will live in the hearts of creatives for longer. Its strict constraints, added with the infinite looping allow for the most creativity. I think that fan base will remain loyal," he notes.
"I still think Vine has a role to play with marketers mainly because the ecosystem is not so closed or strict. Remember, Facebook is all about ad revenue and now they own Instagram, it's only a matter of time before they put the same constraints onto Instagram as they have with advertisers on their platform," Friedlander adds.
"People are going to exploit this space to get creative, but we will quickly realize that you must have an eye or skill to make them any good," he notes. "In digital advertising you need to get out there quickly, test, and evolve it rapidly," he adds. Brands "that wait or try to create the perfect action within these ecosystems end up being last and no one cares."
Some brands like Burberry, Charity: water, and Verve Coffee got an early jump on the news, making them among the first to capture and share videos on the platform.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at email@example.com.
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