October 2, 2019: Instagram launches creator-specific account and releases branded content tags for IGTV; Snapchat announces updates for video advertisers; Apple debuts streaming service; Pinterest unveils several shopping updates

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

Instagram Wants More Creator Content

The Story

Instagram has debuted an account specifically for its creator community named @creators.

Tell me more.

The account, created for the purpose of encouraging the continual creation of content on Instagram, says it will address “tips, tricks, updates, IGTV, BTS (behind-the-scenes), access, insights and tutorials.” Instagram has plans to appoint @creators community ambassadors to walk people through their processes of creating content and offer advice (#IGCreatorInsights) for those wishing to follow in their footsteps. 

What’s Instagram saying?

In an email to Adweek discussing the new account, Instagram said, “The hub will be a source of education and discovery for aspiring creators (and those who just like to keep learning best practices—it’s important to remain teachable, you know?)—and a space where content meets “how-to,” spoken in a language that our core audience understands, with the talent they connect with the most.”


Creators are key to Instagram’s success. 68% of people come to Instagram to interact with creators, so it makes sense that Instagram would continue to invest in this community in a more official “For Creators, By Creators” capacity by developing a central resource for best practices, insights, and advice (not dissimilar to Facebook’s Creator Guide launched last week). 

Instagram’s first pass at influencing the influencers at least hits on a core truth – ”spoken in a language that our core audience understands, with the talent they connect with the most” – which is a lesson for all marketers collaborating with creators/influencers to influence their own target audiences. However, while this account may be helpful by providing exposure for the certain creators that Instagram chooses to feature, the platform still has yet to introduce any formal incentives for creators to make money directly for the content that they produce. 

Our take? If Instagram wants to be creators’ platform of choice, it’s going to need to do more than just boost creator exposure and share the inside baseball of its algorithm. As we all know, a little incentive ($$$) goes a long way. 

Not Unrelated: Instagram Releases Branded Content Tags for IGTV

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Instagram has released Branded Content Tags for eligible creators on IGTV.

Give me a refresh on Branded Content Tags.

Instagram initially released Branded Content Tags in 2017 as a tool to help creators disclose when a post is part of a paid partnership with a brand and to give businesses access to the performance of their branded content campaigns. 

In March 2019, Instagram granted select brands the ability to promote creators’ tagged posts as ads within the Instagram feed as if they were their own ads. Previously, influencers could amplify a non-tagged sponsored post, a brand could amplify a brand-tagged sponsored post to its followers, or a brand could repurpose an asset in an ad unit to promote beyond that audience. Fast forward to June and Instagram issued a full roll-out of Branded Content Ads to any brand or creator with a Business or Creator account (no longer limited to 10k followers).

For more on branded content tools on Instagram (i.e., how to use, where to find), check out this post. 

Got it. So, what’s the update?

The Branded Content Tag (“Paid Partnership With”) is available for eligible creators with a Business or Creator account to tag longer-form branded content on IGTV. The move sets the foundation for Branded Content IGTV Ads, per the evolution of branded post tags to ads. 


Let’s be honest: it’s no secret that IGTV has been slow (at best) to take off – it’s not exactly a top destination for long-form video content. Will the addition of Branded Content Ads to IGTV be enough to spur marketer investment? Too soon to tell, but we’ll be watching (no pun intended). 

On the creator side, this new development gives creators the ability to better monetize their efforts on IGTV through brand sponsorships, reach new audiences, and keep their audiences engaged for longer in IGTV, which is a win-win-win for Instagram, the brand, and, of course, the influencer. 


Snaps for Snapchat’s Updates for Video Advertisers

The Story

Last week at Advertising Week, Snapchat announced a number of new updates for video advertisers, including an increase in the duration of all Snap Ads, more interactive features for its six-second, non-skippable Commercials, and Goal-Based Bidding. 

Break it down for me. 

Sure thing. First, Snap increased the maximum duration for all of its ads to three minutes, as compared with the previous 10-second limit that had been around since video ads were first introduced in 2014. While the company has noted that the user experience for these ads won’t change (users will still be able to skip or interact with the ads), Snap has changed the UX for its non-skippable six-second ad units (Commercials) and users will (finally) be able to swipe-up Insta-style. Rounding out Snap’s updates, platform advertisers also now have access to Goal-Based Bidding, a new bidding option to optimize for longer, 15-second video views. 

What are industry buyers saying?

According to six agency buyers interviewed by Digiday, more advertisers are pulling from budgets that they would have spent on Facebook and Instagram to buy ads on Snapchat. With Snapchat’s launch of unskippable ad units last year, advertisers can now pay to get “completed” views during Snapchat’s TV-like shows, similar to how they would if they bought pre-roll ads on FB or YouTube. Snapchat’s advantage, however, is the lower price point of the ad units. As a result of the lower levels of competition for Snap Commercials among ad buyers, the cost per completion is as low as one cent, with some CPMs as low as $2. 


Don’t completely remove Snap from your consideration set just yet. In addition to having a much lower price point, Snapchat’s long-form content is one of the keys to its success, as its (young-ish) audiences’ appetites for long-form content continue growing. The number of daily Discover viewers has increased 35% year-over-year and the total daily time spent by users watching Shows more than tripled as compared with watch-time during Q2 2018. 

Although Facebook/Instagram can rip off Snapchat’s features, they can’t rip off Snapchat’s audience. Not only does Snapchat have a highly engaged, younger audience (75% of 13- to 34-year-olds in the U.S.), but news publications, too, continue to be drawn to Snap as a result of the successful distribution they’ve received (vs. Facebook, which continues to be complicated). 


Apple Just Wants to Hang with the Cool Kids

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Apple is debuting its streaming service, which will compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but with an unexpected partnership.

Who’s the partner?

Apple is expected to start producing movies with the same studio responsible for award-winning hits like Moonlight and LadyBird A24. It has already bought three movies to be released starting Nov. 1 and dispersed throughout the end of the year. Each movie being premiered targets a very different audience – documentary,  coming-of-age, civil rights drama – showing how Apple plans to maximize the attractiveness of its content. 

Why does this matter?

Unlike its competitors, Apple TV Plus will be releasing these and future films in theaters (most likely with joint A24 and Apple TV Plus branding), creating a unique marketing stage for the platform that other companies haven’t quite been able to capitalize on. For instance, The Bankers – a civil rights drama – will premiere in theaters on Dec. 6 for limited release. Just a month later, the film will be dropped on the streaming platform for on-demand enjoyment. Making movies for theatrical release enables Apple to capture a wider audience and helps challenge doubters of the appeal of an Apple streaming platform. 

Why Now?

The timing is no mistake. Each year, other streaming platforms are a part of the conversation when award season comes around. By releasing three incredibly different movies during Oscar season (that all just happen to cover different award categories), Apple has set itself up to stand out in the chatter alongside seasoned streaming powerhouses such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. All of these platforms have received awards for the original content that has helped to legitimize them – and Apple wants in.


Looking at this partnership with A24, does this seem like a play for a potential acquisition? If so, that would result in amazing advertising placement in front of movie-goers. Imagine paying $20 to see a movie you’ve been looking forward to only to look up and see that Apple TV Plus advertisement. You realize you could’ve watched this movie by just subscribing to the platform. Apple is repositioning itself as a way to see theater-caliber and A24-quality content at home and sooner after release. In a world where keeping cable is almost as much as cutting it when you add up all your monthly subscriptions, repositioning is essential. 

Additionally, as we talk about the legitimacy being a motivator during awards season, influencer generated content will eventually come up. We’ve seen it with YouTube content creators of Honest Trailers (produced by ScreenJunkies) and Epic Rap Battle of History being nominated for Emmys. This could be the type of legitimacy that can launch these series moving forward into the mainstream or convince companies to meet more influencers on their existing platforms since they’ve proven not only to reach but also quality.

Pinning and Shopping And It Feels So Good

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Just in time for the holiday season, Pinterest unveiled several updates in an effort to further promote shopping on its platform.  

Go on..

Shop the Look Ads: With these new ad units, retailers can feature up to 25 products in a single ad. While shoppers will see a preview of four items (max), they will have the ability to click through, see more, and visit a retailer’s site. 

Business Profiles: With newly redesigned business profiles, a brand’s Pins and products are now at the front and center.  Businesses can customize their profile covers with videos or images, and the platform has added a dedicated Shop tab so that users can browse products directly from business pages. 

Global Catalogues and Shopping Ads: Pinterest also now allows businesses in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain to upload their full catalogs into Pinterest and automatically turn their products into shoppable Product Pins. Additionally, these countries will also have access to Shopping Ads so retailers can automatically create Pinterest ads from existing product catalogs at scale. 


With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Pinterest’s new updates will provide marketers with improved abilities to showcase their products as consumers near the point of purchase. With Pinterest’s Shop the Look ads, brands are able to tag up to 25 items. But what is the correct balance of product tags in a post, sponsored or otherwise? It brings up concerns of overcrowding the content and overwhelming the consumer if at the end of the day they’ll only be able to optimally preview and act on four. 



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