Last week, Facebook announced Instagram Video, giving users the ability to take 15 second videos, add special effects and share with their friends. Instagram Video is nearly a feature-by-feature copy of Vine and has been reported to be negatively impacting Vine already. I believe, though, that Instagram Video’s biggest impact will be more on TV viewing and Camcorders than Vine.
If you haven’t used Vine or Instagram Video, it’s hard to explain why it is so addictive. For producers, it’s all about creativity, having fun, capturing “news”, showing off and getting “likes”. Let me use my daughters as an example on the production side. When they go to their friend’s house, what do they do? They are making videos, 8 hours at a time. It reminds me a bit of traditional photo Instagram, but much more intense and time consuming.
The most interesting video capture observation is “gamification”. Neither Vine nor Instagram Video support importing videos, meaning you have to capture the video you want in real-time. There is only minimal video editing in Instagram where you can delete the last video segment taken. What this leads to is the aspect of “challenge”, which I believe makes taking videos all that more addictive. The most interesting features in both programs are the use of filters and image stabilization to make videos look better or artistic.
As I said in the intro, I believe the more interesting discussion isn’t about Vine versus Instagram Video, but about how this increases the acceleration of the demise of the consumer camcorder. Camcorders are great for taking videos of graduations, weddings, baby births and sports events, but that’s about it. Editing consumer videos have been a total nightmare on a PC up until the last few years, which isn’t lost on the general consumer. The video quality and storage is higher on a camcorder than a phone, but then again, so is the picture quality of a discrete point and shoot camera. It’s the same logic here. Both Instagram and Vine give us yet another reason to ditch the camcorder. Let’s talk about viewing videos.
On the viewing side, the behavior is different than on the capture and edit side. It looks and feels more like channel surfing or wading through a Facebook stream. This audience is much, much larger and includes many who don’t enjoy making and editing the videos themselves, but would rather just watch and maybe “Like” or comment on a video. My daughters like to call them “stalkers”.
What makes viewing so addictive is that it is just so personal and has so much depth. Pictures and text are nice, but videos add motion and audio, adding a deeper layer of meaning. This is in part why you now see comedians, indie film makers and novice newscasters flocking to the new media platform. In a sense, the medium becomes real-time reality TV.
The most interesting playback feature is just how quickly videos start playing. Compared to other forms of video, it feels instant, but in reality, there is a small delay. This has a huge effect on just how much this positively adds to the experience. You see, our brains multiply time, meaning that milliseconds feel like seconds. Consumer packaged food makers know this well. This is why consumers will pay 30% more for packaged food that can be opened one second faster.
Like the impact video capture and edit on Vine and Instagram Video had on camcorders, I believe viewing videos has an impact on watching TV. The logic is simple- the more time we are consuming videos, the less time we have the TV switched on. For super-connected homes this has been the case with the trade-off between all forms of social media, smartphones and tablets. Those connected homes are spending less time on the TV and more time on their phones, tablets and PCs. As the content improves and more people are producing even more videos, more people will want to tune into the services to make sure they don’t miss anything.
What’s to put a potential damper on the viewing? Too many ads. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Instagram Video chose the 15 second ad length for their videos. It makes it all that easier to slot in an ad that was produced for TV, which come in 15 second increments.
Net-net, the competitive angle of Vine and Instagram Video is interesting, I believe the genre impact to other mediums and devices is more important. The new Instagram Video harms camcorders and TV viewing a lot more than it does Vine.