Instagram added support for sharing 15-second video clips yesterday, and the feature has been available in the App Store and Google Play for a little over 24 hours. Twitter’s Vine app is already a pretty established video sharing network with 13 million+ users, so you would think that Instagram has some catching up to do. O wait… Instagram has 130,000 million users. Right.
Enough videos were uploaded within the first eight hours of release that it would take you a year to watch them all. Also, there’s a reason clips are 15 seconds long.
“At peak, Instagram users uploaded 40 hours of video per minute. The climactic moment came Thursday night as the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals,” according to CNET. That’s a lot of video. Keep in mind that users on the previous version of Instagram can’t create videos or even view them in their feeds, so this activity was all from users who had manually updated to version 4.0 after the announcement yesterday.
These kinds of numbers highlight Instagram’s biggest advantage over Vine: a massive, loyal, and incredibly active user base. Vine has only been out for a few months, and while it looks like some neat features are coming that Instagram doesn’t currently have, Twitter’s budding social network may have already had its time in the sun.
Back to Instagram. An interesting post on Quartz explains why video clips are 15-seconds long. Instagram seemingly chose to go with a length that’s more than double Vine’s six seconds for a specific reason: ads. Video ads have already been in the works for Facebook, which owns Instagram, and 15 seconds is the exact format that a lot of big advertisers use for TV already.
An Instagram with 15-second videos is right in the sweet spot for Facebook: It’s mobile, it’s video, and at that length, it means that advertisers can drop in their short television spots without even modifying them. This is an important but overlooked feature of online video ads, when compared to other kinds like banner and search: the ability to re-use the same creative on which advertisers have already spent so much money. That’s an extremely appealing advantage to ad buyers.
Right after Instagram turned on video yesterday, Lululemon used the feature for an ad on its company account. How clever.
The good news is that you can turn off auto-play for videos under your Instagram profile options.