YOUTUBE ENVY

Fast Company - - Igtv Product Manager Ashley Yuki Is A New Type Of - Since the video ser­vice launched in 2005, many com­peti­tors have as­pired to knock it off its throne. Here’s how they’ve tried.

Grouper | 2005

The com­pany tech­ni­cally started be­fore Youtube, but by the time its ser­vice came out in De­cem­ber 2005, Youtube was al­ready a rocket.

KEY MIS­TAKE Its ef­forts to com­ply with copy­right law hin­dered growth.

OUT­COME Sony ac­quired it in Au­gust 2006 and turned it into the stream­ing ser­vice Crackle.

Google Video | 2005

Like Grouper, started be­fore Youtube but never got much trac­tion.

KEY MIS­TAKE u¯er­gen­er­ated videos weren’t as ac­ces­si­ble to view­ers as they were on Youtube.

OUT­COME Google bought Youtube for a then as­ton­ish­ing $1.65 bil­lion in Oc­to­ber 2006. Hulu | 2008

When two TV net­works first teamed up to launch a Youtube ri­val, wags called it Clownco. But the great view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence proved that users would watch longer videos on­line.

KEY MIS­TAKE Its nar­row mis­sion of be­ing a home for old TV— plus cor­po­rate in­fight­ing—stunted its growth for years.

OUT­COME Hulu is a cred­i­ble, if mon­ey­los­ing, Net­flix al­ter­na­tive, now ma­jor­ity owned by Dis­ney. Maker and Fullscreen 2009, 2011 These two star­tups built busi­nesses on top of Youtube by man­ag­ing thou­sands of pop­u­lar cre­ators.

KEY MIS­TAKE Dis­sat­is­fac­tion over how much money they could make on Youtube led both to try to go di­rect to fans. They didn’t fol­low.

OUT­COME Fullscreen is lost within AT&T, and Maker is now the Dis­ney Dig­i­tal Net­work. Ves­sel | 2014

For­mer Hulu CEO Ja¯on i¨ar ¨aunched a stream­ing ser­vice that as­pired to get con­sumers to pay to get con­tent from their fa­vorite cre­ators, be­fore they posted else­where.

KEY MIS­TAKE Turns out that peo­ple will hap­pily wait in or­der to watch stuff for free, or find al­ter­na­tive con­tent.

OUT­COME In 2016, Ver­i­zon ac­quired Ves­sel, and then ¯hut­tered it.

Face­book Watch 2017 As part of CEO Mark Zucker­berg’s stated goal to be a vide­ofirst com­pany, Watch be­came Face­book’s video hub for its 2 bil­lion users.

KEY MIS­TAKE The com­pany hasn’t made a splashy bet on con­tent à la Net­flix with House of Cards, which would draw users to check it out.

OUT­COME Watch con­tin­ues, but its tra­jec­tory isn’t clear.

the past four years, she ran the ads team, de­vel­oped the mon­e­ti­za­tion strat­egy for Sto­ries, and is cred­ited with launch­ing In­sta­gram’s sup­port for non-square im­ages.

“A lot of the time, I’m a re­ally di­verse per­spec­tive in the room,” Yuki says, pick­ing at a plate of glass noo­dles at the Slanted Door, a famed Viet­namese res­tau­rant in San Fran­cisco’s Ferry Build­ing. “I con­nect with the busi­ness dif­fer­ently than a lot of the men [do].” She’s wear­ing white skinny jeans and strappy heels that show off a French pedi­cure, a Marc Ja­cobs bag slung over her chair. “I shop, maybe, more than some men. That could be a stereo­type, but it’s true in my case.”

Yuki stud­ies Sand­berg dur­ing the Face­book COO’S weekly Q&A ses­sions, call­ing it “lead­er­ship in ac­tion,” and says that as a re­sult she’s de­vel­oped more con­fi­dence, par­tic­u­larly in ad­dress­ing gen­der im­bal­ance is­sues in tech. (She once changed a com­pany off-site venue from a paint­ball park to a pump­kin patch.) Yuki’s point of view makes her in­cred­i­bly valu­able at In­sta­gram, and her en­thu­si­asm for the celebri­ties and fash­ion brands that have helped drive its growth is gen­uine. She ca­su­ally ref­er­ences the fash­ion and nailart vlog­gers she fol­lows, and she can walk you through the lat­est work­out rou­tine that Taylor Hill, a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model, posted to her IGTV chan­nel.

Like Krieger, Yuki read­ily en­gages on the topic of IGTV’S chal­lenges, say­ing that her pri­mary fo­cus is help­ing users dis­cover IGTV videos they’ll like. “Quite frankly, there’s such a bet­ter job that we could be do­ing of show­cas­ing con­tent in the right way,” she ad­mits. Then there’s the trick of mak­ing sure the app no­ti­fies users about that video at ap­pro­pri­ate mo­ments. “Right now, the only time we’re do­ing that is the sec­ond you open up the app,” she says. “That might be ac­tu­ally one of the hard­est times for you to have a mo­ment to go watch a [longer] video.” One idea is to send out IGTV alerts later in the evening, when “you’re un­plug­ging and try­ing to sit back for a lit­tle bit longer with some­thing.”

Launch­ing IGTV as its own sep­a­rate app (in ad­di­tion to within In­sta­gram it­self) was the orig­i­nal an­swer to the watch-or-scroll con­fu­sion that IGTV presents. Yuki had be­lieved that users would “just tap it and be like, ‘Okay, I’m in. I’m in IGTV mode.’ ” But ac­cord­ing to the an­a­lyt­ics com­pany App An­nie, down­loads for the ded­i­cated video app were mid­dling upon its de­but and have since trailed off sig­nif­i­cantly.

Even be­fore Adam Mosseri was pro­moted to run In­sta­gram in Oc­to­ber, Yuki’s team had be­gun im­ple­ment­ing tweaks to IGTV. The ban­ner that Krieger’s wife had thought was too small? It’s now big­ger and in­cludes a thumb­nail clip of the video it’s pro­mot­ing. As In­sta­gram amasses more data on what peo­ple ac­tu­ally watch, higher-qual­ity videos are com­mand­ing a more prom­i­nent place in the “For You” lineup. Mosseri, in a state­ment to Fast Com­pany, pledges

EVERY­ONE’S TRY­ING TO FIG­URE IT OUT,” SAYS YUKI. “TO SOME EX­TENT WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE BEST STRAT­EGY IS IN TERMS OF YOUR CON­TENT. THAT’S WHY WE’RE EN­COUR­AG­ING EV­ERY­THING, BE­CAUSE WHO’S TO SAY?”

to con­tinue this mo­men­tum and says he’s “com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing more time and ef­fort” into fine-tun­ing IGTV. Yuki has placed her faith in what Jeff Be­zos of­ten refers to as the “fly­wheel” ef­fect, mean­ing that IGTV will re­quire a lot of ef­fort to gather mo­men­tum but will even­tu­ally pro­pel it­self. She says that if she can foster the con­nec­tion be­tween cre­ators and their au­di­ences, then the videos will get bet­ter, users will make IGTV a habit, and ev­ery­thing will work out. “Our whole job,” she says, is, “How do we cre­ate the petri dish where that re­ally takes off?”

IGTV’S COME­BACK EF­FORT STARTS WITH CRE­ATORS, which is why Yuki is court­ing them at events like the one at Ros­al­iné. On hand that day were Jay­den Bar­tels, a 13-year-old dancer, singer, and gym­nast who goes by Mis­s­jay­denb, and Paula Galindo, aka Pau­tips, a Colom­bian beauty guru. “On Feed, you can just put 60 sec­onds of video,” Galindo says af­ter the event, push­ing a long strand of high­lighted hair out of her face. On IGTV, “you can show de­tail, how to blend the prod­ucts, and tell the brands that you’re us­ing [their prod­ucts].”

Other cre­ators, though, are strug­gling to get trac­tion. Makeup tu­to­ri­als, for ex­am­ple, tra­di­tion­ally rely upon graphic over­lays that use the hor­i­zon­tal as­pect ra­tio to de­tail the prod­ucts be­ing ap­plied. “There’s a way that a video speak­ing to an au­di­ence is sup­posed to look,” says 22-yearold beauty in­flu­encer Eleanor Barnes, whose In­sta­gram han­dle is Snitch­ery, “and now that’s break­ing.” She’s posted two IGTV videos, both re­lated to her tat­toos. One gar­nered more than 500,000 views, while the other re­ceived less than 35,000. “No­body has a blue­print.”

As a re­sult, many cre­ators who have em­braced IGTV use it merely to post ver­ti­cal trail­ers for their Youtube chan­nels—cer­tainly not what In­sta­gram has in mind. “Why would I shift my time and ef­fort from Youtube, where some of our top tal­ent makes six fig­ures a month on [Google ads] alone?” says Adam Wescott, a part­ner at Select Man­age­ment Group, which rep­re­sents such so­cial stars as Gigi Gor­geous, Tyler Oak­ley, Jay Ver­sace, and Tré Melvin. Wescott says that none of these clients have used IGTV in a sig­nif­i­cant way to en­gage their fol­low­ers even though they fre­quently use In­sta­gram it­self. Even lower-bud­get video for­mats—di­rect-to-cam­era set­ups that re­quire lit­tle to no edit­ing—aren’t mi­grat­ing to IGTV be­cause there’s no money in it yet. In­sta­gram had orig­i­nally planned to start rolling out mon­e­ti­za­tion be­fore the end of 2018, but it’s been de­layed un­til the prod­uct is fur­ther re­fined.

Still, Wescott ac­knowl­edges that the plat­form can’t be ig­nored. “If [In­sta­gram does] one day turn on the faucet for ad­ver­tis­ing, why not be a step ahead of it if you have the re­sources and the band­width?”

This im­pulse has in­spired brands and dig­i­tal me­dia com­pa­nies to ex­per­i­ment. Warby Parker sees IGTV as a plat­form to “tell a longer, more co­her­ent story than one that is a patch­work of 15sec­ond clips,” says CO-CEO Neil Blu­men­thal. The com­pany has cre­ated the IGTV se­ries #Wear­ing­warby, which show­cases tal­ent like Mar­ley Dias, the #1000Black­girl­books ac­tivist; food blog­ger Molly Yeh; and Jof­frey Bal­let dancer Parker Kit Hill—all talk­ing about their lives and their glasses. Blu­men­thal says that the com­pany sees the great­est en­gage­ment on In­sta­gram’s reg­u­lar feed, fol­lowed by Sto­ries and then IGTV, but thus far he’s sat­is­fied. “From a busi­ness strat­egy per­spec­tive, we’ve found that be­ing an early mover on a so­cial plat­form al­ways pays off.” The ac­tivism-ori­ented dig­i­tal me­dia brand Attn: de­buted a se­ries on IGTV in Septem­ber with a ma­jor get: Joe Bi­den. The for­mer vice pres­i­dent hosts each episode of a weekly talk show called Here’s the Deal, and it airs ex­clu­sively on IGTV for 24 hours be­fore be­ing up­loaded to other so­cial out­lets. Attn: co­founder Matthew Se­gal says he’s op­er­at­ing in good faith that In­sta­gram will pro­vide some kind of rev­enue in the near fu­ture—with heavy em­pha­sis on near. “We’re putting on a show that we’re pay­ing for our­selves be­cause we be­lieve in it,” he says, “but ul­ti­mately we want [In­sta­gram] to fund shows. If you want good qual­ity con­tent, it costs money.” The plat­form has a long way to go to es­tab­lish it­self as a des­ti­na­tion, but there are things it could be do­ing to speed things along. Cer­tain types of con­tent, such as fash­ion look­books, which would ben­e­fit from IGTV’S ver­ti­cal­ity, could gen­er­ate easy wins. Hol­ly­wood agents are hop­ing IGTV de­vel­ops into a por­tal for con­tent that would oth­er­wise be sold to Adult Swim or FX, mak­ing it a pow­er­ful propo­si­tion should the ad mar­ket sup­port it. (In Oc­to­ber, Snapchat added 12 orig­i­nal short-form scripted se­ries and do­cuseries to its lineup of shows.) In­sta­gram’s own ef­forts also hint at how IGTV might dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self. In a Septem­ber re­search meet­ing, the as­sem­bled an­a­lysts dis­cussed how “emerg­ing” dig­i­tal stars see IGTV as a place to show off a dif­fer­ent side of their cre­ativ­ity, such as an ac­tress who’s as­pir­ing to be a mu­si­cian. In­sta­gram can spot­light and drive view­ers to the peo­ple who are try­ing to in­vent the for­mats that might de­fine IGTV. “Every­one does makeup tu­to­ri­als,” one cre­ator told them. “I want to be more orig­i­nal.” Newer, less-proven in­flu­encers also have less of an is­sue with the ver­ti­cal for­mat, pre­sum­ably be­cause they haven’t spent the past 5 to 10 years shoot­ing hor­i­zon­tal video. Also, be­cause they’re so new and ea­ger for ex­po­sure, they care less about mon­e­ti­za­tion. “Every­one’s try­ing to fig­ure it out,” Yuki says. “That’s why we’re en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­thing, be­cause who’s to say?” Free-for-all ex­per­i­men­ta­tion has never been part of In­sta­gram’s DNA. The app’s as­pi­ra­tional tone and sense of care­ful cu­ra­tion has al­ways sep­a­rated it from its peers. It’s what makes In­sta­gram, well, In­sta­grammy, and IGTV—AT least so far—feel like a code name.

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