Experts Speak: As Instagram tests 10-minute Reels, what will it mean for the future of video content?

Reels is extending its time limit from 90 seconds to 10 minutes. With this, video content is going back to its roots. Experts share how to use long form and short format for different purposes to connect with consumers.

Sneha Medda
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10 minute reels

Instagram is now attempting to bring back long-form content by testing 10-minute-long Reels. This update takes us back to 2018, when IGTV was launched. The long-format video feature allowed users to upload an hour-long video. It was introduced at a time when YouTube had captured a strong hold over the market, and Instagram was used as a photo-sharing platform. However, while YouTube still holds the ground with long-form content, IGTV was discontinued due to a lack of interest from users. 

As users fizzled out of IGTV, advertisers lost interest too. At that time, TikTok was one of the most popular short-form video-sharing platforms. To evolve with changing times and compete with China-based social media giant, Instagram launched Reels. What followed was a revolution. Attention span was reduced, and the campaign duration was cut off to meet the platform and consumers’ digital video commercials (DVCs) needs. 

Ad agencies, especially creative and media folks, have started thinking from a short-content perspective to cater to young minds. Ads have been coming in capsule sizes to keep up with decreasing attention spans. 

However, as Instagram gears up to introduce 10-minute Reels, long-form content is making a comeback, and Meta’s journey is coming full circle. There are many implications that this little update could have on consumers and advertisers. 

We try to understand from experts how the new update for long format videos (LFV) will shape the future of video content, especially on the platform. 

Reasons behind the need for LFV

Reels have almost become synonymous with Short Form Video (SFV). According to a study conducted, 30.85% of brands started using Reels in 2023, and the usage of Reels surpassed carousel posts as well. 

However, whether it is the launch of photo-sharing updates or short videos with Reels, Meta is known for moving with the landscape changes. So, what could have led to the birth of 10-minute Reels? Experts shared two core reasons. 

Himanshu Arora, Co-Founder of Social Panga, said, “Long-form content is gaining momentum. Considering this pattern, it was foreseeable that Instagram would eventually introduce longer formats, and it has come to fruition.”

Vivek Kumar Anand, Chief Business Officer of DViO Digital, thinks that the extension of the time limit was Instagram’s attempt to carbon out a space within this long-format content niche. 

Use Cases of LFV

The introduction of Reels redefined the way creative folks thought about advertising. The challenge was to grab attention in the first 2-5 seconds and to fit the entire narrative of a campaign into a limited time stamp. 

But unlike short-form videos, long-form content demands depth and substance. It's a chance to provide real value to viewers through meaningful storytelling and in-depth discussions. 

Sonia Khurana, COO, of DIGITAS India, thinks that with long-form content, marketers will be able to deliver much thought-out content. “It is a great way to educational content, tutorials etc.,” she added. 

Ambika Sharma, Founder and MD of Pulp Strategy thinks that if brands use the new format to create more in-depth content that tells a story or provides value to their audiences, then it can be used to attract consumers. 

“The success of the new 10-minute Reels format will depend on how brands and marketers use it to create content that is relevant, engaging, and valuable to their target audience,” she adds. 

Aditi Mathur Kumar, Associate Vice President - Creative Business Lead of Interactive Avenues thinks alike. The new format will give space to storytelling. 

She said, “Instagram will introduce 10-minute Reels as an option for brands to utilize in scenarios such as genuine content requirements, appointment viewing, or category-specific stories.”

“If brands use this format to just run standard TVCs, it might not benefit them in the long run. They should focus on using this to tell better stories ‘organically’ and not to just rehash TVCs,” said Kosal Malladi, Vice President of Madison Loop.

Apart from being a solution for marketers, experts also think that with the introduction of long-format videos on Instagram, creators will get an opportunity to showcase their content extensively. 

Panisa Shah, Director - Creative of Social Beat said, “Extended formats could offer brands and creators a chance to connect with fans in different ways and tell more compelling and immersive stories.”

Vivek Kumar Anand said, “Extending the time limit for Reels would enable creators to host this content natively on Instagram, thereby retaining user engagement within the platform.”   

“Given the option for longer format content, creators can now structure their videos into three distinct sections: the Hook, the Middle, and the Conclusion or Call-to-Action (CTA). This new framework allows for more nuanced storytelling and greater depth without sacrificing immediate viewer engagement,” he added. 

Capsule content and its strengths 

With the addition of a long format on Instagram, advertisers will now have more formats to leverage and connect with users. Video’s future was expected to be short and personalised. However, the future could change and make space for more formats as users demand for more. 

“Short-form video isn't going away,” Aditi Mathur Kumar said when asked about the future of SFV. 

According to a report on Indian social media users, on average, Indians spend 38 minutes per day watching short-form content. And latest surveys also suggest that in India, SFV platforms are expected to capture ~40% of the $8-11 billion video commerce market in 2030. 

Jennifer Mulchandani, Partner at Acture Media thinks that SFV will always find its place in the digital marketing world as there will be an audience for various content types. 

“Regardless of its length, if the content resonates with the audience and aligns with the campaign's objectives, it can be highly effective,” she added. 

Sonia Khurana said, “For consumers, they are very watchable and easily shareable. I read somewhere that short-form videos get watched and shared twice more as long-form content”. Thus making SFV the perfect platform for brand discovery, she added.

Ambika Sharma believes that because short videos are easy to consume and share, and are well-suited for the mobile-first environment, it will likely be the dominant format on Instagram Reels. She further stated, “However, the 10-minute Reels format could offer brands and marketers a new way to reach and engage with consumers who are looking for longer, more in-depth content.

A mix of short and long videos

As videos go back to their origin – long form, the question that stands is what the future of SFV looks like. 

SFV gained traction because it was snackable. Doom scrolling is a term that formats like these popularised. The rise of social media and SVF have led to a trend where users wake up to the scrolling of reels which are bite-sized and can be consumed on the go. 

Experts believe that because of the short attention span, SFV will stay for the long run. And for the audience that consumes a niche that is long-form content, both categories will eventually coexist in harmony. 

Aditi Mathur Kumar said, “Quick entertainment retains audience engagement. Different content durations coexist, offering audiences more choices. Just as long-form video thrives on YouTube alongside Shorts, SFV will continue to be a valuable option for content consumption.”

Ambika Sharma thinks that the future of short-form video is one of hybridity. “We will see a mix of short and long-form videos, and brands and marketers will need to be flexible in their approach to video content in order to reach and engage with consumers.”

Kosal Malladi said, “The future looks like both forms of videos will rest on the same platform. Users will have the option to consume what they want basis their need, and of course mood.”

instagram reels 10 minute reels SFV long format video