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Can the Bite-Size Format of Instagram Stories be Replicated by Brands?

Instagram has made recent headlines by boldly and shamelessly lifting the Snapchat Stories formula for their own Instagram Stories (a claim that even Instagram’s own CEO is willing to admit). And it’s no wonder why.  As of April 2016, Snapchat was seeing 10 billion video views per day!  Brands are, of course, eager to tap into this consumer behavior, some already seeing great success. Take Nike, whose first Instagram Story alone garnered over 800,000 views in a 24 hour period.

This type of content, where masses of viewers gobble up condensed clips in near real-time, after which the content is all but discarded, has usage beyond its obvious home within the dueling “stories” features of Instagram and Snapchat. The same principle can be applied to other mediums, including paid media, paid social, YouTube pre-rolls, and organic social posts.

Savvy marketers are recognizing that the effective digital content needed to fill these channels, driven by consumption on mobile devices, requires a nuanced strategy. Those brands are willing to adjust to the implications that come with the changing times; namely, more disposable, shorter-form animated content and the huge upside that comes with it. Conversely, less responsive brands continue to invest heavily in the creation and distribution of live action content in a more conventional way, with long-form videos that require hefty financial and creative capital, rendering scalability impossible. Here are some converging trends that should help to alleviate the changing landscape, while allowing brands to create and utilize high-quality content at scale.

Emergence of New Content Formats

One trend that we predict will help brands solve the challenge of scaling the type of content consumers crave is the emergence of new content formats. Traditionally, we have thought of visual content in a binary context: static image versus video. However, exploring the gray area between these content objects opens up another layer of engaging media that is easier and more affordable to scale. At Olapic, we have developed a technology called “Content in Motion” (CiM), which allows brands to turn static images into dynamic animations. This technology allows consumer brands to take their wealth of photos, whether it’s the type shared by fans on social platforms or brand assets created professionally, and scale that content in a more dynamic and affordable capacity., a curated marketplace of the UK’s best creative independent businesses, has already realized a 33% post engagement lift and a 93% lift on completed video views on Instagram.

Proliferation of Consumer-Generated Content

Over the past several years, mobile devices have become equipped with more powerful cameras, allowing everyday consumers to take high-quality pictures. Combined with platforms like Instagram, this has led to an incredible amount of relevant and valuable imagery taken on behalf of brands by their consumers. We’ve written previously on how this “earned” content is benefiting brands in terms of both engagement and conversion metrics. Still, the quality of consumers’ video content has lagged behind thus far, though it has begun to improve. In the coming years, we believe that consumer-generated video content, not just on mobile devices but with more accessible cameras, like those made by GoPro, will continue to get better. As a result, brands will be able to tap into this content and utilize it in their marketing experiences. Doritos has famously done this already over the past ten years with its #CrashtheSuperBowl campaign, where the brand invites amateur filmmakers to submit their own Super Bowl commercials as part of a contest.

Use of Automated Technology

Finally, the increased capability of automated technology over the near term will help brands scale their dynamic content strategy more efficiently. Programmatic buying is already automating the process of distribution of video across the web, and as it becomes more sophisticated, this will free up resources for brands to think more strategically about their content creation efforts. According to AOL’s “2015 US State of the Video Industry Report,” by the end of 2016, 38% of all digital video ad spend will be bought programmatically, totaling $5.37 billion, nearly an 86% growth in dollars year-over-year. This is a trend that goes hand-in-hand with scaled content, as programmatic enables content testing and optimization at a volume that allows for maximized results.

It will be interesting to see how brands tackle the challenge of short-form motion-based content over the next several years. One thing is clear, for those that are able to create more dynamic and personal experiences at scale, consumers will reward them with more engagement, conversion, and loyalty.