Instagram recently unveiled a 15-second video format. The simple add-on works in much the same way as its enormously successful photo feed: hold the screen button to record, let go to stop, add a filter from a selection, tag, comment and post.
Until now, accelerated brands — the ones that jump rapidly onto new tech and social platforms — have used Instagram for simple shots of product or, occasionally, for something a little more immersive. Now, however, the gates may have opened for an entirely new form of advertising.
Video, even pre-roll on YouTube, is now an established form of digital creative. This is true, but the tools at creatives’ disposal in the new Instagram are unlike those that have been presented before.
Through the photo filters provided when it first launched, Instagram essentially democratized a level of photography that had hitherto been almost alien for the guy on the street. Now it is doing the same for the wannabe videographer.
But just chucking a filter over an image doesn’t make it good. Real photographers and savvy art directors know this all too well. You need an eye, an understanding and a point of view to create a mesmerizing image. The same can be said of a 15-second video.
And who knows more about short-form video than the guys unceremoniously called the “dinosaurs” of the ad business? These arch storytellers now have a golden opportunity to make that experience and expertise count in a way that has eluded them for the last decade.
Instagram will not be alone in affording this chance. New tools and apps will pop up to facilitate an even higher level of polish for these 15 seconds that are now inundating every feed, much as apps such as Slow Shutter! did when Instagram first took off.
The cross-pollination with multiple social networks and the ownership of Facebook will also augment the reach of these 15 seconds in a way that YouTube cannot. The exclusive mobile nature of Instagram is what ensured its initial popularity. The video component will benefit from this also. Immediate sharing, “liking,” tagging and, most importantly, location plotting give Instagram’s 15 seconds a level of exposure that many YouTube videos simply cannot manage. Being in the here and now is also an increasingly important component of online advertising, which aims to reach people in the present and influence their behavior instantaneously.
So, one might argue that to trigger the kind of reaction advertising seeks (product purchase), you need minds that know how to provoke. The guys who brought us naked men in launderettes washing their jeans, talking frogs that drink beer and the insight that “1984 won’t be like 1984” know, point blank, how to provoke. That is why they are now more relevant than they have been for the past 15 years.
But — and it’s a big “but” — they need the newbies to show them how to spread the word the right way because they still haven’t quite gotten the hang of that yet.