Instagram last week began offering packaged videos tied to topical events, starting with a stream of video content to celebrate Halloween.
In launching a curated content initiative, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is following in the steps ofSnapchat andTwitter. Snapchat launched Live Stories in June, and Twitter introduced a feature called Moments last month.
Live Stories packages Snapchat posts on an event into a single stream. Moments appears as a tab on the Twitter app and links to collections of videos posted to Twitter, such as “Pets Chasing Lasers” and the “Marco Rubio Pinata Controversy.”
Bringing curated content to users is part of the battle in the mobile space to capture as many moments from users as possible because they can be turned into advertising dollars, according to Julie Ask, principal analyst for e-business atForrester Research.
“Video is a top-five category in terms of mobile moments as measured by minutes. If you sell advertising like Instagram and Facebook do, you need minutes,” she told TechNewsWorld.
“It’s all about increasing the number of users that you have,” said Darren Hayes, an assistant professor at Pace University’sSeidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.
“The way you increase the number of users is to target content at individuals and make that content as interesting as possible,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Aiming at YouTube?
TV and streaming video represent 9 percent of all smartphone minutes used in the United States, according to report by Forrester released last year. Nearly half of what’s watched — 43 percent — comes from YouTube. Curated products could cut into that YouTube dominance.
“It’s not always as convenient to share YouTube videos as it might be to share a tweet or Instagram message. This will allow for faster sharing of videos than is normally associated with YouTube,” Hayes noted.
Curated offerings also can be a better way to consume video than what’s available from YouTube.
“YouTube highlights its most popular videos, but it really doesn’t categorize videos or push out videos according to topical events in the news,” Hayes said.
Someone to Sort Over Me
Curation can be a way for users to cope with content overload and can foster discovery.
“There’s such an incredible volume of material streaming into people all day long that one of the challenges is, how do you sort it out?” observed John Carroll, a mass communications professor atBoston University.
“Instagram is saying, ‘We have people here who will sort this out for you, who will package it for you,’ ” he told TechNewsWorld.
Packaging information is what the traditional news media do every day.
“When digital media came along, the unit of value was the individual piece of content, and consumers became the packagers. Now there are so many individual units of content, consumers are looking for someone to package it for them,” Carroll explained.
“We’ve come full circle,” he said.
Aid to Discovery
Although users are being deluged with content, they’re still trying to find new things. Curation can address that problem, too.
“Discovery of new content can really be a challenge,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst withReticle Research.
“These curation efforts help sort through the morass of content on these services. It’s a way to surface things to the top on networks where you have a high percentage of content viewed by relatively few people,” he told TechNewsWorld.
In addition, packaging content in the right way can be a magnet for advertisers.
“Curation puts the networks in a position to better strike partnerships with all kinds of brands,” Rubin said.
“Just as Apple, Google and Facebook aggregate news sources and publications, these social networks could expose brands to a demographic of users that are not engaging with them right now,” he noted.
However, brands need to recognize what they’re getting into when they cut a deal with a middle man.
“There’s always danger when working with an intermediary,” Rubin said, “that you’ll end up sharing the spotlight with your competitors.”