Instagram update means Facebook video ads are just around the corner

The majority of the marketing community is now aware video ads are soon coming to Facebook. We don’t have a definitive timeline yet, but the move to bring short-form video content to Instagram, suggests video ads across both platforms are coming soon.

Lara O'Reilly

It feels like it was just the other day marketers were struggling to get their heads around how they would be relevant on Vine. While Vine is arguably the original mainstream short-form video network and already has a few superstars – brands as well as individuals – Instagram video is already looking like a more attractive offer.

To get the basics out of the way first: Instagram has amassed a base of 130 million users, while Vine’s user base is much smaller – although official download numbers for the app have not yet been released by owner Twitter.

Vine’s beauty, marketers argued when it first launched, was its brevity. Users are restricted to filming just 6-seconds of video, which displays as a loop on users’ news feeds. 

On the other hand, Instagram for video has chosen 15-seconds worth, an ideal length for marketers to transfer their short TV or YouTube ads on to another platform. Perhaps, as a content platform, Instagram is not the best home for TV-style ads, with the usual calls to action at the end, but this length of time does offer more of an opportunity for marketers to experiment.

A additional benefit of Instagram video for marketers is that it comes packed with features that aim to make the content created using the app appear more professional. Features such as camera stabilisation and filters will be welcome to marketers who may feel the shaky, homemade appearance of Vine videos do not live up to their brand values.

It has long been mooted Facebook is preparing to introduce TV-like ads to the site. If US reports are to be believed, the roll out is likely to begin this autumn.

It appears Facebook is using Instagram as a test bed to ease users into the idea of videos appearing in their news feeds. While Systrom did not comment about advertising at Instagram’s video launch, he did say the company would be strongly supporting its brand partners in using the technology. And we all know what happened a few months after Facebook launched Pages for brands, for example.

The success of Facebook’s video ad proposition weighs on users’ reactions to videos appearing and automatically playing in their news feeds. By rolling out video on Instagram, Facebook can gauge valuable metrics about users’ engagement with 15-second ad-size content. 

Rather than wait until the autumn, brands should begin experimenting with video on Instagram now, not only to test the kind of creative that resonates best with their followers but also so they are not one of the brands that might appear to be a little out of kilter when Facebook eventually rolls out video ads in the news feed later this year.

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