Instagram users can now post videos of up to a minute in length, up from the previous 15 seconds, as the Facebook-owned social photo service looks to lure advertisers away from platforms such as Snapchat and YouTube.
The new feature rolled out on Tuesday for select users with everyone being able to access it in the "coming months", Instagram said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Videos are becoming increasingly important to all social media companies, especially Instagram and Facebook which bought the photo app in 2012. Instagram said that in the last six months, the time spent by users watching videos increased by more than 40 percent -- and that could mean more advertising revenue.
The social media firm announced this year it would begin showing how many views a video has received in a bid to show the popularity of the videos on its app.
There are a number of reasons behind why social media companies have been pushing hard with video innovations.
- U.S. digital video ad spend is expected to hit $9.59 billion this year, a 28.5 percent rise from the year before, according to eMarketer. On mobile, the increase in video ad spend is going to be 47 percent. This is particularly important for Instagram which is a mobile app.
- At the same time, Instagram's user base is growing quickly. It currently has around 400 million monthly active users globally. In the U.S. eMarketer expects the user base to grow 15 percent this year and by 2017, 51.8 percent of all American social network users will Instagram. This is attractive growth for advertisers looking to tap millennials.
- For Facebook, which has been pushing its own video capabilities, finding a way to monetize Instagram is key. This year, 9.5 percent of Facebook's worldwide mobile ad revenues will come from Instagram, according to eMarketer. By next year, Instagram's share will grow to 14.0 percent worldwide.
Facebook has been expanding its own video services with features such as live streaming and 360 degree video, which will be a key feature of its virtual reality offering. Last November, the social networking site said it gets 8 billion daily average video views from 500 million users.
Meanwhile messaging app Snapchat has also been pushing brands to use its platform which combines pictures and videos, while Twitter recently launched a feature to let advertisers prioritize a video tweet near the top of a user's timeline.