Instagram takes a minute to add video time for users

By Hayley Tsukayama

The reason, at least according to Instagram, is that its users wanted it. Photo / Getty Images
The reason, at least according to Instagram, is that its users wanted it. Photo / Getty Images

Have a lot more to say on Instagram? You are in luck.

The company announced this week that it is going to extend the time limit on videos on its network to 60 seconds - up from 15 seconds - starting immediately. The company said in an official blog post that the new feature would hit some users' accounts this week and roll out to everyone in the coming days.

You may wonder why a social network so focused on offering bite-size content would want to enable a longer format. The answer, at least according to Instagram, is that its users wanted it.

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"In the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 per cent. And longer videos mean more diverse stories from the accounts you love, whether it's Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) hanging out with friends or beauty star Bretman Rock's (@bretmanrock) latest makeup tutorial," Instagram said in the blog post.

Instagram is also reintroducing the option for iPhone users to compile clips from different videos and stitch them together - similar to Vine or Snapchat's Stories - to allow users to tell a more complex story through their videos. The changes came about the same time as Snapchat's recent updates to expand the service to allow video-chatting. The new Snapchat update also lets users auto-advance through their friends' stories - a sort of central timeline to stay in touch with friends, although certainly not as traditional as the Facebook or Twitter timeline.

The changes put Instagram in a better position against Snapchat or even Google's YouTube, which have been quick to exploit users' interest in sharing and streaming videos. Several analysts have said that video is the next step of social networking and of the Internet. Cisco, for example, predicted last year that video will account for about 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2019.

Instagram first rolled out 60-second videos as an option for advertisers in February.

Advertisers have long pushed for longer commercial-length video on social media networks, but the decision to expand the 60-second format to everyone could be an indication that those have been successful.

As an advertising platform, Instagram has become more important. It reaches an audience complementary to that of its parent company, Facebook. But because the two networks are part of the same company, advertisers must create only one campaign to work on both networks. So if a brand wants to reach both Facebook's older (read: over 25) audience and the younger, selfie-snapping youth of Instagram, it does not have to run two advertising campaigns.

Facebook, of course, has seen a lot of success with its video advertising products, which has helped the company launch itself to some of the best advertising revenues in its history.

The company has said that its users watch 100 million hours of video per day. Facebook does not break out Instagram's video advertising in its earnings reports, but Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, told analysts during Facebook's last earnings call that "Instagram will become core to advertisers and mobile brand building efforts."

- Washington Post

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