Facebook Looks To Answer Gen Z Problem With IGTV

Recent data on Gen Z digital consumption by social platform tells a concerning story for Facebook. A new report from the Pew Research Center the study showed YouTube leads the pack of internet platforms for Gen Z. About 85% of kids 13 to 17 say they use the video service, followed by Instagram (72%), Snapchat (69%), Facebook(51%) and Twitter (32%).Another survey from Pipar Jaffray has only has 9% of teens saying Facebook is their preferred platform, while Snapchat paces ahead.

The good news for Facebook is that the numbers are not as grim on Instagram. In the Pew data, 72% of Gen Z is still active on the platform and it remains a useful marketing tool to target teens. Facebook knows its best countermove against YouTube and Snapchat taking Gen Z audience share is to expand the capabilities and prospective reach of Instagram. It already effectively co-opted stories from Snapchat, and with the recent launch of IGTV, it is looking to house its version of YouTube within the app.



IGTV will give creators and media publishers the ability to publish vertically formatted video up to 60 minutes long. It will be housed in a new tab that is accessible in a similar way to the current “Explore” tab. It will also be available as a separate standalone app. The videos will be organized by playlists, and allow custom thumbnails and clickable outbound links, a long-desired feature from both creators and media publishers.

As Facebook experiments with different variations of ad breaks, it is not unreasonable to think mid-roll and pre-roll could become integrated into these long-form videos. Instagram Stories will also now have the capability of swiping up directly into an IGTV video to further boost traffic.

For creators who have a sizable Instagram following but lack the same traction on YouTube, this is a further incentive to put more energy into the platform rather than trying to migrate their audience elsewhere. For the Gen Z audience currently in place, it gives them the ability to consume long-form, programmatic content directly in the app. It remains to be seen whether use habits will evolve, considering Instagram is popular for its quick-hitting images and video in the feed, but Facebook should have reason for optimism considering the success of Stories.

Instagram will begin creating awareness by notifying users when accounts they follow upload new long-form content, along with creating a “front page” of IGTV surfacing select users and videos. It remains a long-term question how they will create consistent awareness about activity within the IGTV tab without disrupting traditional user behavior. IGTV also still currently requires you to click to enable audio. There may be an opportunity to incentivize publishers to upload video formats of their podcasts, as the format continues to expand in popularity, by making the audio integration more natural. 

Outside of IGTV, Facebook has made other additions within its native app to solicit more teen use, including launching its own version of the popular game show HQ and rolling out a more robust creator suite. However, its best opportunity to cut into Snapchat and YouTube’s audience share exists within Instagram, which is why it makes sense to expand the capabilities of the platform. It has not been shy about integrating features originally served on Snapchat, so it was only a matter of time until it began replicating features within YouTube. IGTV is the first of likely many steps in that process.

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