IGTV — a product whose design doesn’t address fundamental conflicts

IGTV was an interesting experiment in which big platform tries to expand the scope of vertical video beyond how it gets popular on Snapchat Stories and musical.ly.

It made sense for Instagram as a platform where celebrities directly connects with fans to focus on providing destinations for long-form persistent content i.e. storing live-streamed footages. As Youtube’s sweet spot for short storytelling video is going longer at/around 10–15 min in 2018, it also made sense for it to pursue video format that fits 2–5min with vertical format.

On the other hand, product design is not inspiring because it doesn’t address fundamental conflicts vertical videos carry — 1) horizontal video creates mental barrier of rotating your screen, conversely once you rotate, as you are mentally invested in that content, you tend to watch longer, this dynamic prefers horizontal format for longer videos over vertical, 2) as view duration is naturally shorter in this format, monetization is much harder thus it doesn’t have a prospect of paying out larger sum relative to other existing platform.

Our typical Youtube videos retain 75% of the viewers at 30 second so that we have enough time to state the objective and value proposition of the them. Same thing cannot be said about IGTV UI. By having a UI that directly takes you to the first video without friction of analysis paralysis, it sacrifices even a first 3 sec view through that’s around 50% for our videos. This is a level that’s too low to incorporate any storytelling structure of any sort.

So far as great portion of videos on the feed are horizontal ones and IGTV app generates much smaller views vis-a-vis the same videos on Instagram app itself, it proves that unless you address fundamental flaw, any heavy upfront investment nor reach won’t save it.

How Instagram will iterate will remain to be seen. Players such as Trivia HQ has an incentive to keep innovating on its format and has both engineering and content capabilities to do so. Without such capability, it should take much more time for Instagram to iterate.