May 30, 2019: Instagram supports landscape videos on IGTV; Kellogg’s takes creative approach to influencer marketing; Amazon launches new influencer-led fashion shopping experience; YouTube changes the way subscriber counts are displayed; ESPN’s test-and-learn approach to Snapchat
IGTV Changes the Landscape
In an effort to attract more creators to post on IGTV, Instagram has announced that IGTV will now support landscape video.
Let’s talk about IGTV.
With the rapid and mass adoption of Instagram Stories, Instagram first launched IGTV to succeed where Facebook Watch and YouTube struggled: long-form video creation for the masses. In doing so, Instagram also intended to popularize a new medium of long-form, mobile-first, vertical video. Horizontal (AKA: landscape) videos weren’t allowed on IGTV.
The old IGTV can’t come to the phone right now.
Users will now be able to upload traditional landscape videos too, and they’ll be shown full-screen when users turn their phones sideways while watching IGTV.
Why the sudden change?
Two words: creator adoption (Or rather, the lack of). Up until now, the majority of creators turned away from creating original content for IGTV because they didn’t want to spend the time, energy, and money shooting content that wasn’t repurposable on other networks, and vice-versa – especially with no monetization options.
What’s Instagram saying?
“We’ve heard from creators who want to upload landscape videos for IGTV. Similarly, we’ve heard from viewers who come across landscape videos in IGTV but want to watch them in a more natural way. That’s why we’re announcing support for landscape videos in addition to vertical.”
This move continues to emphasize the fact that the current arms race between the “Big Four” social media platforms isn’t just for more ad dollars, but for more influencer and creator engagement. As we’ve seen over the past few months, those who design for even just beyond the minimum viable creator use cases have a chance at winning audience retention and viewership – and with that, ad dollars. Those that go above and beyond to deliver the best creator experience have the most opportunities for gains.
In order for Instagram to consider monetization for IGTV, it desperately needs user adoption, which is fueled by the creation of engaging content. While allowing for landscape video uploads could initially result in more content uploaded to IGTV since creators won’t need to reformat their YouTube vids, it won’t necessarily help IGTV to differentiate itself from competing platforms.
As for the potential influencer adoption of IGTV, the general consensus seems to be positive. As Miranda Mendelson of Slashed Beauty stated, “I think we’ll [now] see a boom in influencers utilizing this feature. Especially for those of us who upload content across several platforms, the need to re-format (or even re-film entirely!) footage for the IGTV vertical dimensions was the biggest pain point. This update is a step in the right direction, though I’m not sure about creators uploading [original content] exclusively to the platform until there is a way to monetize or run ads on the videos. Right now, I will definitely be testing out the new features of IGTV on more casual, less “produced” content or teaser videos leading to monetized videos on YouTube.”
Are Insiders the Next Agencies? Inside Kellogg’s Influencer POV
Instead of picking influencers based on their reach and follower counts alone, Kellogg’s is taking a holistic approach to influencer marketing, collaborating with influencers in a variety of capacities. Recently, Kellogg’s held a product development workshop in London where health and fitness influencers were invited to share feedback on an upcoming product ahead of its global launch.
Let’s talk strategy.
Kellogg’s is not just thinking about “long-term content partnership,” but is also considering the full incorporation of influencers into the brand’s creative process, including more expansive briefs, integrated brand-agency-influencer teams, increased brand education, and a mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics that better measure influencers’ value and performance. The objective: to elevate the quality of the content produced by influencers.
We’ve seen other brands like Kellogg’s begin to diversify the ways in which they work with influencers. From the initial sourcing of influencers from current customers to inclusive ambassador programs composed of consumers, influencers, and employees, brands are beginning to understand the immense value that influencers can bring to an entire organization (see also: #SephoraSquad). This shift in how marketers are vetting, validating, and measuring influence allows brands to unlock the full value potential of influencers across brand marketing teams and the customer experience journey.
Amazon’s Big Influencer-to-Consumer Bet
Amazon announced that it has developed a new fashion shopping experience called The Drop. The Drop is designed to provide, “Exclusive access to limited-edition, street-style inspired collections designed by fashion influencers from around the world.”
How does it work?
Once you’ve signed up for text alerts (Right here. You’re welcome), Amazon will shoot you a text when each new influencer collection drops. You’ll then have 30 hours to shop The Drop’s street style-inspired capsule collections via the Amazon App or mobile browser before they disappear. When you decide to purchase an item, it will be made on-demand in order to minimize excess inventory and waste.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: influencer-to-consumer (I2C) brands (Actual brands; not just exclusive products, collaborations, and collections) are the new disruptors and challengers, so this makes sense as a way for Amazon to test, learn, and stay ahead of its competition. Influencers are doing this already – opening up new opportunities for marketers to collaborate with product innovations, partnerships and venture capital.
For years, Amazon has been collecting shopper data, social data, and influencer preferences, and now we see one of the many reasons why: to cultivate influencer talent in the form of new and exclusive collaborations. If this is an incubator of sorts, we anticipate the launch of Amazon-backed I2C brands based on those whose collaborations perform the best.
YouTube’s Massive Subscriber Count Change
YouTube has announced plans to change the way subscriber counts are displayed on the site. Beginning in August, YouTube will show a rounded number instead of showing precise totals.
Why would YouTube do this?
While YouTube declined to comment on whether the update was related to the latest high-profile feud between beauty YouTubers James Charles and Tati Westbrook, a company blog post said that the goal of the change was to create “consistency” on the platform and standardize the way it portrays subscriber counts.
The change will affect YouTube API Services, which can be used by third parties like Social Blade to offer services such as live subscriber count analytics for any YouTube channel. Historically, the tool gave third parties access to precise subscriber count information that made live subscriber charts possible. Similar to the changes to Instagram’s API last year and as platforms continue to restrict access to data by third parties, marketers will need to increase their reliance on first-party data strategies and partners – if they haven’t done so already. Additionally, marketers need to understand how creators’ value extends far beyond their audience size as the optics of those metrics become outwardly less important, as seen with platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and now, YouTube, deprioritizing those metrics
ESPN’s Playing the Long Game on Snapchat
As part of ESPN’s digital strategy of meeting sports fans where they already are, the sports publisher continues to turn to Snapchat to create original shows. Currently, ESPN hosts four original series on the platform, each featuring unique topics and anchored by different ESPN personalities.
Talk to me about ESPN’s Snapchat strategy.
Over the past four years, ESPN has altered its strategy with the platform, creating more TV-like content instead of just linking to ESPN articles. From the launch of its Snapchat version of “College GameDay” in 2016 to its weekday afternoon show called “ESPN Daily” in 2018, each segment ladders up to ESPN’s overarching digital strategy.
What’s ESPN saying?
“Our overall strategy is to drive sports fandom on all locations. I can’t speak for others, but for us, we’re super excited and happy [with Snapchat]. We think it’s an audience we’ve really resonated with. I think we’ve just gotten smarter in terms of the pace, how fast each segment is and each scene is, even the graphics,” – Ryan Spoon, SVP of Digital and Social at ESPN.
Influencers and creators continue to be influential drivers of meaningful audience engagement and attention across all platforms – even Snapchat.
ESPN’s Snapchat strategy speaks to the value of being a first-mover and implementing a long-term “test-and-learn approach,” especially for cultivating a younger audience that will mature into older, long-term viewers. Where ESPN has found value and success in its Snapchat strategy is in giving its fans an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the filming of certain shows through the lens of distinct on-air ESPN personalities, enabling ESPN to go beyond conversations about the game.