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Instagram built its billion-dollar business largely on the back of photos, but since adding support for video in 2013 the Facebook-owned app has, by virtue of its massive user base, become one of the most popular video-sharing services in the world.
And its video appeal could grow for brands thanks to a change that will make it easy to track the popularity of videos.
On Thursday, responding to feedback from users, Instagram announced that it will be adding view counts underneath videos.
Previously, Instagram displayed Likes, an important metric but one that is limited and may not fully reflect the popularity of a video.
Instagram acknowledged this, noting that "views are the most widely expected form of feedback on video." Information on Likes will still be accessible by clicking on the video view count.
While view counts are "the first of many ways you’ll see video on Instagram get better this year," this simple addition could help pave the way for Instagram to become a real video powerhouse for brand marketers.
Although Instagram advertisers already have access to a number of analytics tools that help them measure metrics like reach and engagement, view counts will make it easier to track the success of their videos as well as those of other brands, including competitors, much the same way they do on YouTube.
A boost to influencer marketing?
Beyond giving users, including brands, the ability to better analyze video consumption, many see Instagram's move as being designed to bolster its own video ad business.
While videos posted to Instagram are limited to 15 seconds, Instagram advertisers can now buy video ads of up to 60 seconds.
But public video counts could also bolster the Instagram ad economy that the company doesn't control.
After all, with popular Instagram creators like illustrator and animator Rachel Ryle reportedly generating hundreds of thousands of views per video posted, it's clear that video counts could help marketers more easily find influencers with broad reach and a knack for creating video content that resonates.
With the most popular influencers demanding larger and larger paychecks, brands have an incentive to identify influencers with promise early on, and to make sure that the influencers they pay big bucks to really do have the ability to deliver.
The big picture
Of course, video counts, like pageviews, are a vanity metric and brands should remember to incorporate other metrics into their Instagram analysis.
That's particularly important given that Instagram, like its owner Facebook, counts a view after a video has been played for just three seconds.
That might be a higher standard than that used by the Media Rating Council and IAB, which call for two seconds, but on YouTube a view reportedly requires approximately 30 seconds.
So brands looking for an easy way to analyze video consumption activity across all of their social and video channels will find that apples to apples comparisons are hard to come by.