Instagram Introduces IGTV Ads, Creator Monetization

Instagram is introducing new ways for creators to make money from two of its main video features.

The Facebook-owned app on Wednesday announced that it will start running advertisements in IGTV, its home for long-form videos, and sharing that revenue directly with creators. This marks the first time Instagrammers will be able to monetize their IGTV videos. Instagram is also introducing paid badges during live streams that will give fans a way to directly support their favorite creators.

"Creators are such an important part of Instagram, so we continue to look at ways of allowing creators to turn their passions into livings on the platform," Jim Squires, vp business and media, tells THR.

Beginning next week, 15-second ads will play after people click to watch full-length IGTV videos from the preview in their feeds. Instagram is treating the early roll out of IGTV ads as a testing period and will only make the product available to a small group of marketers and creators, Squires notes. The brands participating at launch include Sephora, Puma and Ikea, and the creators who will have access to the monetization features include Avani Gregg and Salice Rose. Creators who participate in the program will receive 55 percent of the ad revenue sold around their videos.

Instagram launched IGTV in summer 2018. CEO Adam Mosseri promised that monetization would arrive after the platform had found its footing. But early on, the service struggled to get buy in from creators, even as Instagram subsidized the cost of video production. Two years in, IGTV has gained more traction with Instagrammers, though the company has yet to share how many users it has. Introducing monetization opportunities for creators could entice more of them to use the product and help boost production budgets.

"It gives me more motivation to share more of myself with my followers," says Gregg, who uses IGTV to share makeup tutorials that run much longer than the videos she posts to TikTok, where she has 20 million followers.

For others, like Rose, it’s an added bonus. The creator, who has 10.9 million followers on Instagram, says she’s always considered it the primarily place to engage with her fans, even when it offered were fewer monetization opportunities. “I’m going to get paid for something that I already love to do? That is a blessing,” she says.

During this early period, Instagram plans to test different ad experiences, including skippable ads. Squires says the intent is to create an environment where the ads — which will run vertically — feels “native” to the IGTV experience. "We wanted to start with a small group of creators and marketers so we can set the right tone and we can advise more closely on doing mobile-first immersive creative in this environment, which is very similar to where we started years ago introducing advertising on the platform," he notes.

Instagram also selected primarily emerging talent to participate in the testing phase of the program. Squires says the test group will remain small through 2020 before expanding to a wider, international group of creators.

The introduction of badges for Live comes as the product has seen a surge in use during the coronavirus pandemic. Forced to stay home, musicians, actors and filmmakers have turned to Live to connect with fans. Across the Facebook platforms, 800 million people are watching live streams on a daily basis, Squires says. Now, fans will be able to buy badges — the price ranges from 99 cents to $4.99 — during live streams to be more visible to creators and put money directly in their pockets. During the trial period, creators will get 100 percent of the revenue from those purchases. (A revenue share will be implemented at a later date.)

Instagram is upping the money-making opportunities as it faces increased competition from booming newcomer TikTok. Though still in the early stages, these features send a message to creators that Instagram — with its 1 billion monthly active users — remains a valuable platform for growing a following and building a business.

IGTV ads and Live badges are part of a suite of monetization tools for creators. Instagram has also introduced a shopping feature in Live where creators can tag products for people to buy directly from the videos. It also offers a marketplace to connect creators to brands. Both features are expected to roll out more widely in the coming months.

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Squires. "Different creators and marketers are going to want to mix and match these things, so the idea is to provide a number of different revenue streams."