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Instagram eyes video integration as YouTube, Vine gain steam

Facebook acquired Instagram to bring some freshness to its social strategy. But a little over a year later, it is Instagram that is beginning to look a little long in the tooth as Vine and other video-sharing sites take off.

The quick growth of Vine and continuing gains in digital video are not lost on Facebook, which will reportedly launch a mobile video app for Instagram at an event tomorrow. While there could be some interesting implications for marketers if advertising is a part of the strategy, Instagram will need to continue to innovate if it wants to stay fresh in the quickly growing mobile social space.

?It's about time all social networks start paying attention to video - Instagram is no different,? said Salim Hemdani, vice president of software development at Mixpo, Seattle, WA. ?Look at what Twitter and Facebook are doing and Tumblr is next - why would Instagram not think about it?

?The current technology trends are shifting rapidly and Instagram needs to keep innovating with technologies such as Video or Snapchat, which would go a long way for Instagram, he said. ?Snapchat, real-time picture chatting, is generating 150 million ?snaps? sent daily around the globe and is something that Instagram can do quickly.?

User-generated vs. premium
As traffic on social sites increasingly migrates to mobile devices, brands are recognizing a need to create mobile social strategies. Facebook has seen significant growth in its mobile advertising strategy so far this year and may be looking to translate some of that success to Instagram.

Facebook has worked hard over the past year to build its mobile advertising strategy ? with some strong results so far this year ? so it seems likely that advertising will make its way to an Instagram mobile video app at some point even if it is not there initially.

However, for an advertising strategy to be attractive to brands, Instagram may need to look beyond user-generated video. Attracting more advertising is at least part of why YouTube recently introduced premium video (see story).

?Video is a logical strategy for Instagram, since it's a natural extension of photos and will make Instagram even more useful to its users,? said Ujjal Kohli, CEO of Rhythm NewMedia, Mountain View, CA. ?Video advertising, on the other hand, is a whole different matter.

?Video ads require ?fair value exchange? with the consumer in order not to be perceived as interruptive pop ups,? he said. ?That means premium video context, such as E! or Ellen, and not user-generated content.

?Of course, one can stick a video ad anywhere, and people do these days. The price is dissatisfied users, and over time, dissatisfied advertisers.?

Direct response ads
While Instagram has nine million users and Vine has just 13 million, attracting advertisers to a video offering will depend on how well it goes over. Facebook held a big launch event not too long ago for Facebook Home, which has not been well received by users.

?It is likely that direct response ads, app or digital downloads, and even movie trailers could do quite well, since this type of advertising does not necessarily require premium content,? Mr. Kohli said.

?But even if Instagram offers video, it still will not be the best place for brand building,? he said. ?Brand advertising for big brands across CPG, auto, financial services, and more requires immersive advertising embedded in premium media.?

Instagram is already making its way into marketers? strategies, with The Four Seasons, Taco Bell and Barneys just a few of the brands that have leveraged the photo-sharing service this year for mobile marketing initiatives.

The attraction is Instagram?s young user based.

What remains to be seen is how attractive Instagram video might be for marketers.

?Over half of the visitors to the Instagram website are under the age of 35, so it?s a critical social channel for reaching and engaging with a younger audience,? Mixpo?s Mr. Hemdani said. ?For brands to be relevant they will need to embrace this new way of communication and build the channel into their overlay marketing strategy.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York