A Look Inside Instagram Sports with Dev Sethi
Head of US Sports at Instagram, Dev Sethi, joined the Business of Social to discuss all things Instagram. What led to IG becoming the powerhouse that it is today? What can we expect from IGTV in the future? What will Instagram look like in 1 year? 5 years?
Dev also gives his thoughts on best practices for social, how he encourages his partners to best utilize the app, and what the potential for the future of shopping on IG could be.
All right. I am pleased and honored to be joined by my man, my friend Dave Seth. He is a sports, had a sports and Instagram. Dave, how are we doing? Doing well. Doing well. How are you? So good to see you once again. And I think by the time this show gets released we'll already have been at pro Max, uh, doing a panel together. So, um, it's so great to kind of talk shop with you as it, as we always do. But I always think things off with a random question. So as a proud Notre Dame alum, when you saw your boy Brady, Quinn Jack up 24 reps at two 25, but that moment that you think this guy's an absolute stud with a great NFL career ahead of them, or were you potentially predicting 12 tds and 17 int total seasons? Well, I'll throw me a curve ball up front. So yeah, up here.
Yeah, I mean, funnily enough, Brady, Quinn and I were in the same dorm, uh, in college at Notre Dame. And, uh, one of my college roommates was a, was a tight end at MD. And so my last day on campus and Notre Dame was actually in the weight room with Brady Quinn and I'm not gonna lie, I thought he was going to be a stud. Um, and then you realize that there are guys who are products of the system and I should've known, I should've known better watching, watching all those books. Yeah. All those Florida quarterbacks I played under, uh, under Spurrier should have, should have taught me better. But I actually think if he had landed in a better landing spot, he might've had a more substantial career. But um, but hats off to him for having a tremendously successful post-career and media. I think he's a phenomenal commentators, so you know, would've liked to seen him on the, on the field for a few years younger, longer. But, uh, he's doing a great job on it.
Well, you have to your point before Baker, I mean the joke was Cleveland is where quarterbacks go to dive and there was a stretch there where they were getting number one throughout picks. Like for a decade and just could not figure it out. It was pretty sad actually. Like literally if you got picked number one and you were, you were so good to get picked, number one, your career may be over attentive.
Yeah, I mean, maybe it's the state of Cleveland or the state of Ohio Rather. I mean, I remember Achilles Smith going to Cincinnati and his career quickly dying and um, and you know, our, our boy Tim couch who was probably the first in that long line of quarterbacks to, uh, who had no success at all in Cleveland. But yeah, Baker's seems to be turning the corner.
Uh, I want to dig into, I mean, listen, you and I go way back. I was looking back at it like eight mean eight, nine years almost. But, um, it's funny STN as an agency started off as a youtube channel essentially, and you were, uh, my rep at youtube and you were so kind to hook it up, homie hookup, get us on the front page and things like that, which I'm forever grateful for. But you've had a really, um, impressive career starting at Google. Then moving over to youtube, whistle sports, then you go to chief of staff at complex and then most recently, uh, you know, becoming the head of sports and Instagram. Can you break down, I think first and foremost your role and what you oversee day to day at Instagram? For sure. So
I think I'll sort of break it down in three ways. If my, if my overarching goal as head of sports of Instagram is to have great sports content on our, on our platform and highlight that we have great content on our platform. I think there are three ways I can be impactful there. One is I can shout it from the rooftops. I can jump on the business of social podcast. I can speak at Pro Maxx, I can work with marketing and comms to illustrate the great partner content that we have on our platform that really extends from athlete driven, authentic first-person content all the way to the most premium sports content and highlights that you can find, um, in sports overall. So I can do that, um, to be influential in this role. The second is I can be a strategist with our partners and by partners.
I really am talking about the folks who work with, uh, in the athletes segment, our media partners, the ESPNs, the bleachers of the world, uh, teams and leagues on a global basis. And so how do I strategize with them, help make sense of our ever evolving industry, how Instagram plays a part in that and what are the tools, the strategies on our platform that are going to help them really be successful and engaging. What I would say is their current but also next generation of sports fans of whom there are 320 million sports fans on Instagram. So strategizing with them and really being that sort of consultative, a guide and Lens of which, um, we can be helpful to their business. And then there's 500 million users in Instagram, so 220 of them are sports. Sorry. So there is over a billion users on Instagram. 1 billion, 320 million are sports fans.
That means they follow a number of sports accounts. Absolutely. And, and again, they're following accounts like house of highlights, but they're also following accounts like John Wall or Bradley Beal as you can tell, I'm a wizards fan. So, uh, I follow [inaudible] right. I mean that really follows it Brian. So I've got to give some love to my what's well, Washington athletes. Um, but the really the, the third way and I would argue one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my role is how am I an advocate for sports within the walls of Instagram and Facebook inc overall, how am I representing the interests, the unique interests, challenges, needs and opportunities of sports partners in an environment where Instagram is trying to serve a lot of different constituents. We're trying to build for a, for creators and individual creators we're trying to build for consumers and what their experience looks like.
We're trying to build for advertisers. How do I represent the interests of sports, work with product engineering by cross functional partners overall and really represent how valuable this vertical is to both our fans as well as to the partners themselves and try to build tools, products in ways in which we can work with sports to make this and continue to make Instagram a great place for sports content in the future. Well, you would do some really cool things with original content at whistle sports in that complex. I think first we feast and sneaker shopping. All those series kind of released, um, onto your tenure as well. Well, before you got to Instagram, what was the most, um,
I guess appealing thing about Instagram as a platform
question? I mean, I think one, if you ask a lot of people, both consumers and partners, Instagram is not only the forefront of, I would say innovation, but it's definitely where that next generation of sports fans is. It exists. And so for me, being, being able to actually have my career come a little bit full circle in working at a platform six years ago and youtube, seeing how the industry has evolved and then being able to come to, um, a platform like Instagram, which has found such great success in both its simplicity but also the ways in which consumers have really embraced, um, all the tools and features of that platform. Being able to work on that, on that, um, as it becomes even more important to our partners across the ecosystem from a distribution perspective, from a programming perspective, and really thinking through what do young people enjoy and want to see on this platform and from our partners.
And that's really one key theme and, and almost differentiator in terms of working at Instagram that, that has been pounded into my head and I needed to continue focusing on, which is how does Instagram stay relevant to young people? And unfortunately, I'm not that young anymore. So I have to sort of extract myself from what is Dave Sethi and joy about, uh, sports on our platform and really think about it from the perspective of what do teens and young people enjoy and how can we really double down on that. And in many ways sort of future proof Instagram, uh, in, you know, as platforms continue to come and go and evolve and evolve. Um, how does Instagram continue to stay relevant
as we look back at history 40 years from now, look at sports and social and digital and Instagram and all these different movements. I would assume bleacher report, a House of highlights has a chapter in there cause I think in my opinion, how's the highlights? Pretty much disrupted, ruined, whatever you want to call it. The sports center model. I mean you and I know growing up being huge sports geeks like ESPN news is on constantly. I couldn't wait for the 11:00 PM news so I can get my Laker highlights or updates on what have you. It kind of started with vine originally, but once Instagram became that platform, I mean that really changed the sports landscape in a big, big way. Absolutely. And
people want content when they want it, how they want it. And there is an element of sort of fishing where the fish are and you know, to be honest, eight years ago the lack of embrace of just the distributed media model was rampant and you know, the realization is that the audience would rather spend their time on in a handful of places. And if you're not relevant in those places, your business, you know, stands to be diminished. I look at a house of highlights, one I think how's the highlights and just bleach report in general, um, are, are incredibly innovative. The thing about House of highlights that I've always found fascinating is that their playbook is differentiated in, in certain degrees. But you and I both were called back in, you know, 2015, 16. There were a lot of channels across a lot of platforms that were posting highlight driven content that, that they did not own.
And House of highlights was running a similar play but, but one, they pick the right platform in my opinion, they pick the right partner and bleacher. And if there's one thing that I will honor, which is, you know, that NBA partner absolutely. If there's one thing I give them so much credit for in addition to having vision about like how they want it to differentiate it is that they knew and they know how to speak to young people. There is a, there was a language, there is a, a way in which they engage that is so different than literally the same piece of content on a different, uh, on a different channel or different account. And to see what they've done in taking their ability to speak authentically and credibly to young people and build a robust business around it and you know, engage in original content far beyond just how it driven content.
It speaks to, um, to not only them sort of having that foresight, but it speaks to Omar and the team they've built around understanding and even being a part of that group of young people. You've studied this whole sports digital game for so long. What's interesting is the model itself isn't that impressive. I mean it's, it's uploading highlights in real time, but uh, what's so fascinating about it for me is all more like in his dorm in Florida or whatever it was, which was cranky and working 20 hours a day and he knew that the fan base just, they wanted more, they wanted it instantaneously and if somebody would've had that same work ethic or same drive and copied that model and so the bottle itself wasn't revolutionary, but the work ethic, the grind and the roll up your sleeves is like really what took it from zero to hero.
Absolutely. And to your plan, I think he did pick the right platform in the right format to your point as well. And understanding what that short stackable content looks like, how to make a highlight and more than just a highlight how to make it a conversation starter in Omar. It's funny, as I obviously follow House of highlights and one of the things I really enjoy is how engaged Omar and his team are with the fans directly. There is no substitute for a brand engaging it's fans in the on a direct basis. Um, and making their fans feel like they are part of the conversation if not staring that conversation. And so again, I give his team a ton of credit because to your point there was, there are elements of differentiation of what he did and what that team has done. There's a lot of similarity to what people did, you know, again, a few years ago and those organizations had to sell themselves for pennies on the dollar. Um, when things like content id and tools are being rolled out to shut them down. Omar found very strategic partners and he had a differentiated voice and there's a reason that he rose above and that or in the House of highlights has risen above and become, um, you know, a court staple.
And even as of a couple of years ago, he was still the number one person posting and editing. And now they obviously have a little bit of a team there, but, uh, yeah, it's such a cool story and happy for him for all his success. Um,
You know, all of our people that come on this program, I would say 99% of them, I ask them what platform seems to be working the best right now? They say Instagram. Um, and that's, you know, no secret to you. Why do you think Instagram is working so well for so many brands and while other platforms may not be able to be on the same playing field as we sit here and 2019.
Yeah. You know, I think part of it is sort of the beauty of simplicity and the simplicity of design, which makes a lot of just inherent sense and engages people in a meaningful way. That the overall mission of engineering was to bring people closer to the things and people that they love. And everything that's built about Instagram derives at that mission. And so, um, you see that in the way content is curated. You see it, the way in which the algorithm works to help serve more and relevant content to those people. Uh, there, you know, there is a delicate and find balance of commercial reality plus a organic, you know, user driven content that fans want to um, experience as well. And so I, I don't want to say that Instagram is, is doing so many things better than other platforms because as a user of all of these platforms, I gain a lot of utility from a lot of different platforms and frankly I'm jealous of other platforms for, for some of the elements and features they have.
I think snapchat and Twitter have done a great job of serving publishers in ways that I think Instagram actually stands to grow and benefit publishers as well. Um, I just think there is, you've, you've reached a critical mass and Instagram of being relevant to a youth demographic. You've started to play the superpowers of being able to port audience from surface to surface. What, from feed to stories to Ige TV and you've really done, I think I give the product team so much credit for building native experiences that support the business of Instagram, but most importantly serve its audience. Whether it's shoppable content in ways in which people can indicate the shot out, getting it to that, um, okay. And uh, and even getting people into a mid and long form content experience like Ige TV, you know, it's, that stuff didn't happen overnight and there's definitely lots of room to grow and to improve. But um, but the proof points are there and I think Instagram's really prudent about how they go about those things.
Well, yeah. And for someone on the other side, that's like implementing strategy for my clients. I just say that Instagram, if you only have one platform that you could only focus on all day every day, it would be Instagram. And the reason I say that is the organic engagement. It's just as you know, more than anybody. Um, I did a quick case study and looked at the NBA one photo on Facebook compared to the same photo on Instagram, got 37 times more organic engagement. Um, so the algorithm is, is, is juiced right now and you're just getting more eyeballs on your content, more engagement, more comments and more people are seeing your content more than the other platforms, which I think scares a lot of marketers cause they're afraid that, uh, when the algorithm potentially gets turned down a little bit, that may hurt, um, their strategy. But that's, I mean, you're seeing that as well. I'm sure.
I mean, I don't have to look very far to our, our sister platform to understand the, the ramifications of when things are tweaked and changed. Right. And I, and I know that, you know, with the embrace of this distributed media model, you know, are you at the mercy of whether it's a publisher or an influencer or creator at the mercy of some of those changes? And I think for us, um, we're very mindful in frankly we are, we have benefited as a platform so much from being able to observe how a platform like Facebook as both flourished. Um, in terms of coatings ab test. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I was sitting in a, in a product meeting with the dear colleague of mine who used the, the analogy of having an older sister and the benefit of having an older sibling is that you get to learn from their mistakes and you get to learn from the ways in which they've been successful.
And so Instagram is, is much the same and, and the audiences aren't a hundred percent similar. And so there are some nuances to, you know, to be understood. But you know, I think again to, to my comments about all of these platforms serving some unique purpose, um, there are things that Instagram does really well, but there are also things that youtube does really well. Um, you're the second biggest search engine in the world and they play to their strengths. Instagram has done a good job of playing to its strengths. And again, we've also been able to learn a lot from our brother and across the aisle around what is resonant to the audience, what's resonant to publishers and then also what maybe harmful or challenging to our partners with whom we work every day.
So IGT v has been a huge topic on the program the last few months as well. When it first came out, obviously I was extremely excited. Um, as it rolled out, it seemed like the original business plan or model was to go head to head with youtube for long form content. It was a little bit clunky from a user friendly standpoint and then once it became a feature of Instagram and it was in stream and watch more, which it is now, I'm just extremely excited about that uh, Opportunity. Cause you had, it seemed like the original goal was to make it two separate platforms almost, but once you guys decided, let's make it an additional huge feature inside a, the mothership
app, if you will, that seemed to change the game. But have you guys seen some incredible engagement or numbers since that changes are made? The proof points are there and if you just look at our partners or pull our partners around what they've been able to see, you know, tier pull on playing to the strength of, of having a preview in feed and driving to a minimum from content experience. You know, it's funny you asked that question because when I speak with partners and have spoken at summits, um, maybe honest to a brutal fault because I was at complex when IGT v was launched and working for a media company. That was a couple of months for you starting Instagram. Yeah, exactly. So I joined Instagram at the end of August and I think, I just think it was launched in on June 20th maybe around late June. Okay. And so for me, looking at Ige TB, to your point, everybody bullish about the opportunity, this represented, I'm sure there are some consternation within the media segment around, okay, well how do I embrace in emerging distribution platform but without overextending our core business and our resources that we apply to producing mid in long form content?
Because as you recall, IGT TV was all about vertical video. And let's be honest, most people don't produce in vertical. Um, for me the w y immediately thought about when I was at complex and then as I moved to Instagram was what is the superpower of I TV and how do we play to this superpower? And for me the superpower on an Instagram in general is as I said earlier, being able to port audience from surface to surface and deliver really relevant, engaging, authentic content. And at Launch Ige TV was not doing that, right? You didn't have this experience of Fox sports being able to produce a piece of long form content, have it be posted in feed and drive people to a fully immersive experience once they wanted to engage more deeply. And as we found in February when we did launch that feature, to me it was almost like this is a long time coming and now we really have served our partners across the ecosystem in playing into a superpower.
And the followers want to see that the Fox sports follower, you know, to see that three minute, you know, World Cup documentary of what have you. It's not as if like IETV is this messy thing where normally Instagram followers don't like content over one minute. Like that's just not, it seems that from a data standpoint it's not the case. So it's been, yeah, I agree. I think it always was a really awesome feature. The same way ige stories is a really awesome feature of Instagram, um, rather than a completely separate app, kind of going to head to head with Youtube for sure. And just making sure that, that all of these services are connected in a deep way so that the user is able to have a bit of a seamless experience as it were. You know, and also, again, as I think about our partners superpowers, our partners have built an audience on Instagram.
So the area where we should be removing all friction is in getting them to content that they think their audience, uh, will enjoy. And, and they don't want to have to essentially build, it's not a new audience build up in awareness from the ground up. The way that an athlete who's on Instagram would find it challenging to start a new youtube channel. Right. I mean, ideally it's go bring your audience from one place to another in a seamless, effective way and have that uh, user enjoy the type of content that lives beyond one than the, the original work around was cut a minute highlight. Yup. Click the link in bio to take you off platform to a youtube. So I think it just makes so much sense to, you're now keeping people, I made time, have you seen any stats or data on just time spent on platform rise because of that?
Cause I'm assuming that the click out click the link and bio is probably dipped a little bit due to partners being able to upload full, full content. You know, it's, I haven't seen any specific data around that sort of total time spent on our platform. Although we do know our audience comes in and gate is content numerous times a day, um, which is, which is great because they want to, it speaks to the platforms, timeliness and relevance, um, to, to our, um, you know, to our audience and to our partners. Um, so I think there's some initial proof points of why that's of, of how that will continue to be a trend. But you know, as, as we've discussed previously, an offline Instagram is still invested in building tools that support our partner's businesses. And if those businesses live off of Instagram, that's okay. And I, if we can still provide a value there as well.
But for a mid and long form content experience, we should be able to create a surface that really allows our partners to go down some of those rabbit holes, um, and not feel like they have to go through, um, any sort of constraint in order to do that. And I think post February, we've really found our stride in that regard. And then as, as you've seen for the past couple of weeks, the fact that we now support landscape that's taken friction out of the partner experience in supporting a content format that allows for them to not have to assign such substantial production resources to get their content onto our platform topic on this. So to a lot of people would say, am I going to invest on other two hours a week or what have you to turn all my landscape content and that vertical to leverage. I GTV however, as like a, you know, a truest like inside baseball type of guy, I kind of wish you guys would've held your ground.
I love that vertical. Like I felt like I liked stuff that makes you like have to work a little bit. Like in order to really use the platform the right way, be innovative and be able to put the work into it. By, I mean at scale, I understand the need for, listen, we just paid 500 grand for this 16 by nine commercial. Don't make us chop it up and go for it. No, it's, it's a, it's a great social media purists. I think I'll just create a new word. Yo, you better put coin in as quickly as box. We can use it on Wednesday when we meet as well. Uh, you know, for me it's, it's fascinating because the whole positioning was around vertical video and to speak plainly, I'm certain that there are people who looked at are now supportive of the landscape format or horizontal as, as, okay, well Instagram has now moved away from vertical and the reality is actually that is not the case.
The reality is that you gain enough data and you get enough content on our platform to understand that there are certain content formats and even verticals that are going to cater to a vertical style, whether it's first person, uh, authentic like handheld content where you're maximizing the real estate of vertical and obviously that data. But with our clients, and we've tested this out as well, like when you compare 60 by nine to vertical, I mean the, the stats are through the roof. I mean people, it's just gorgeous. It fills up your entire iPhone x and you're using, to your point, all their real estate. Uh, they see equivalent of widescreen TV compared to four by three with black bars in the center. Totally. And again, I would urge the audience of this podcast to really think through the f think through what is important to them as they're producing content, whether it's vertical or horizontal, and what is their audience to draw.
I'll give you a great example. Um, you know, so Manchester United has a series they produce on Instagram that is one of those popular franchises on IGT, HGTV and it's shot in vertical. They really invested on it. It's, it's been tremendously successful in an as athletes featured. And I think the first question any partner would ask post landscapes support is, okay, should I just shoot everything in horizontal now, I think the real answer is figuring out what your audience enjoys in what franchises or content types are better suited for vertical than horizontal. The the other side of that coin is you and I as sports fans and having worked in sports and sports media highlights probably are better suited for horizontal than vertical. What I watch a highlight and vertical, my first thought, and this is as a fan, this is not me. [inaudible] and scan approach, I feel.
Yeah. And you feel like as someone who likes to see the, the broader pitch, the broader field, what am I missing that's out of screen that doesn't allow me to sort of foresee or predict what's going to happen on a given player highlight? Um, the same way that if I was a beauty or makeup artists, which I'm obviously not, um, you know, come on May, may maybe this, this vertical format where I can bring my phone close to what I'm illustrating to my audience feels intimate, authentic, and actually does a better job of illustrating what I want to show to my audience than if I were to do it in horizontal. And so that's where I would implore people to think about what makes sense for their audience, uh, and use that as a guide as opposed to saying, well, now it's just easy for me to not to cut content and vertical.
Well, your audience might actually really enjoy that content and vertical, in which case it just makes sense to, uh, to optimize for all those things. And you know, I look at also a company, not to Belabor this point, but I look at an organization like Meredith who was in my opinion, incredibly innovative in, in planting a flag in the sand, early days, ige TV to say, we are going to produce 10 series in vertical for Ige TV and we're going to sell these shows and it's going to be great. And they doubled down on that, I think less than three months ago. Now we support landscape. Does that mean they're going to migrate all of their 10 to 30 shows in the, into horizontal? I th I don't think that's a, that's like a a zero to one. I think there is a lot of consideration that needs to be made and especially if they're proof points of their audience that their audience enjoys vertically produced content, then maybe that is the best format for that show or for a handful of those shows.
If so, for trying to think. I wanna word this. Um, from a vertical standpoint though, I feel like from what I've seen, um, people enjoy or interact with that content more. What is your feeling? This is again, super granular. What is your feeling on a minute vertical in feed followed by rotate your device once you're at IGT v cause like games zones is doing that, which it makes total sense because all the CGI [inaudible], all the animation that goes into that, it's really tough from Sir for them to re re-export all that. So that's what they do and why. And we've tried that a little bit, but any thoughts on that approach? Yeah.
What we're trying to solve for, honestly from a product perspective is how do we, how do we, I don't want to say eliminate those edge cases, but how do we provide an optimal experience across services where our partners don't have to essentially hack their way to success. Right. And when I think that's one of the reasons.
Separate edit just for you.
Exactly. And I think if you look at, again with the, especially digital first media companies, if their model is make once monetize two, three times over, distribute two, three times over. What you saw with a lot of media companies was that exact a statement of getting the audience to turn their phone. And so if we're, some of the greatest innovations on Instagram's platform have come from seeing what users and partners do attack our platform. Right. And so, um,
Twitter you just, people just started coming up with a retweet this r t and they came with the retweet button. I mean [inaudible] users they use just teach you what you need. Yeah,
absolutely. So I can't speak specifically to that example that you shared, but all I will say is that for those use cases where we know there is either some friction or constraint on the partner side or the consumer side, we want to address those use cases and take that friction out of the process. So the statement being or the punchline been to, to make the partner export another edit simply because the platform has like that's necessarily not what you want them to do. So you're trying to find ways to make that more user friendly. I mean I think about the IGT v previews and feed example where as opposed to them creating a separate edit and then redirecting their audience to the profile to click to an immersive ad TV experience. Okay. It's not as clean. Yeah. How do I take three steps out of that process?
Think about shopping and checkout. How do we remove the consumer friction in that process and allow them to buy directly on our platform? In an ideal world, actually improved conversion by taking some friction out of that user journey when it comes to purchasing product that our partners want to sell. Right. So I think that's maybe a better illusion to the thought process that we have as an organization, but also our product team on a, what are the things that make the most sense to benefit the user experience, but also the partner experience. My final statement on this is a 16 by nine and feed does not look good in my pity. You got to go four by five you got to go one to one anyways. Well, well send me that email in a formal way so I can escalate it to our, it was sounds weird, but as again, the social purest in me.
I hope that I don't see, I mean, cause a lot of people were, you know, uploading photos and 16 by nine and what a difference four by five makes in a vertical environment. And I just, it's, it's gorgeous. It really becomes gorgeous with the right, you know, screen that you have and if 16 by nine starts to become more of the norm, I think people started getting away from that. We'll see. I guess we'll see how that user based interacts with that based on the IGT view change. I think there's also this the question of how much real estate do you want to do you want in feed and on these services in general. Right. And so I think you're going to see the course corrections with, uh, producers of content in general as they, as the data avails itself and also to your point as their users get feedback on, on what they don't like about the content they're being served by our partners.
Um, alright Dave, we're going to get this shopping. I'm really excited about this. Why, why, when it first came out, it blew me away on my, this is like Amazon game changer in my opinion, just because you already have people on their app that especially fast and it's such a big, um, big fan of products overall. Speaking of the gym culture and everything like that and the ability to your point, not only did they send them off site, which I know is kind of in Beta, but to have all within the app and kind of take a page at Amazon with like a two click experience. Um, I'm going to give you the floor, like break it down. Cause I think you and I both know the, the possibilities. Yeah. So I'll say a couple of things and just for clarity for the audience and, uh, and I probably should've asked you where questions in front of who the audience is.
I don't think it's my mom listening. Uh, you know, uh, you know, Monday afternoon at five 45. Um, but for, for folks who are listening who want a better understanding of our shopping product there really to shopping experiences that can be had on Instagram today. One is our legacy shopping product as it were aware. Um, our, our partners have the ability to produce shoppable content, upload their product, product catalog onto Instagram. And then if the consumer wants to make a purchase, they are directed to our partners, Webb, our own, uh, their own nose and they can make that purchase there. The newly supported use case is Instagram checkout, which essentially takes that Beta or just top 20 brands or where they are, I believe between 20 and 25 at Kimra, the exact number, 20 and 25 brands who are currently onboarded at the checkout. It's a US only feature.
So you have to be a consumer based in the u s um, and a partner based in the u s in order to, to enjoy this product. Um, but essentially for checkout, you, we've removed that last layer. That transaction can occur on, on Instagram so that all the user has to do is fill in payment information, select that product and then make and stay on Instagram and, and move on. And really the, the best analogy for sort of the longterm thinking of Instagram and in shopping is how is Instagram become your personalized mall? Because different from an Amazon, you are not going necessarily going to Instagram with the 100% intent of shopping for a specific product. You are browsing partner content, you are PR, you're perusing brand content, you're perusing your friend's content and you are essentially in a shopping mall where there are any, any number of things you could engage with, whether it's going to see a movie or whether it's going to walk into, um, to apple and buy something right?
And so, and so how do we take friction out of the consumer journey and allow them to enjoy the ability to purchase something that they find interesting, uh, in want to and want to purchase while not completely disrupting them from leaving an immersive Instagram experience. And you know, there is, again, this is a very small percentage of the ecosystem. Now there's so much work that has to be done. The fact that it is only us only there are only 20 some brands that are involved, but you can think longer term of of how is that going to benefit every part of our ecosystem, whether it are the, whether it is the brands and the media partners who are creating merchandise that they know is resonate with the consumers, to the consumers themselves who want to feel like they aren't having to jump through hoops in order to, uh, in order to convert.
And so shrinking that conversion funnel, uh, I think is incredibly valuable across all sides of that ecosystem. And yeah, the ups, the upsides enormous. Um, that's, you know, I would argue that shopping will be a pillar of the, of the user experience, you know, as we think two, three, four, five years down the road. The question is how do we do that in a really tasteful way? And honestly from a partner perspective, how do partners create really rich and tasteful content experiences that are also shoppable? Right? And so we have some great examples even with our legacy product of, of organizations that have really done what I would call content meets commerce. And the two examples that are so top of mind from a sports perspective are one, um, and engagement that we did, uh, Ige sports did with the NFL around the NFL draft in creating a shopping activation, um, with their new era hats that all of the draftees aware as they, as they get drafted, they went off stage, they were in a beautiful immersive environment where they created content with us and the NFL posted that content in the user had the ability to buy that content through our legacy product.
I mean that was such a great, such a, a tasteful way to take a tent pole moment and make it shopable. And then secondly, and there are any number of proof points, but what bleacher report is doing with content meets commerce I think is really innovative and it's really content meets commerce meets culture in their collaborations. And hip hop and entertainment and fashion, uh, as well as the things they did with, you know, with Dwayne Wade earlier. Um, I believe earlier this year, you know, that's the stuff that people want to discover on Instagram and are going to lead to a purchase on our platform. And that I think that's really where you're going to see a lot of the wins. Um, and also I would argue even a lot of the urgency around meeting the user in a moment in a moment that inspires them to want to purchase.
Right? I'm the same way that if I'm in a mall, I'm walking perusing the aisle or on, you know, looking at something and I'm inspired to make a purchase and I can go make that purchase. So a couple of things on that. A, once you enter your credit card data, there's a save it for all future purposes, future purchases, SSN, so in opt to double check this, but I believe once you've entered payment information, once, it could save a serious story that the second you get paid your paycheck on a zero. Um, and that is the, is the ultimate business model, much like an Amazon or Ebay Instagram provides the platform, takes a small percentage of sales and then you could use that as much as you would like as a, as a brand. Yeah. I mean we don't want to, we, our model is very similar to other mottos that, that provide this kind of service in terms of the transaction fees that are involved.
And again, we only have x number of partners who are doing this, the two that are most sports related or Nike and Adidas. Um, but that model is not going to deviate from what our partners are used to seeing across every other platform. Ideally we're able to provide a lot of meaningful scale, um, and meeting the audience where they are. And so I think those are the two things that we're really keenly focused on. In addition to, um, I think building an immersive experience where, you know, as I mentioned, taking friction out of the user journey, the consumer journey. Are there other ways in which we can do that? And I think you'll see in the next few months there are additional product features and tools that we're going to introduce that do even better job of that. Um, similar to how IGT v started playing it, super power around previous and feed. I think you're going to see, see shopping with more partners on board and a checkout. We're going to start introducing more superpowers there that enable a better experience across the board
as somebody that has a little OCD and type a personality. I always freak out like the bleach report moment that happened with bleacher report live with tiger versus Phil when that moment happened is the reason behind the Beta test is to figure out just that how much customer service support, how many engineers that you're going to need to really be able to help, uh, products and brands at scale. Because you can't get to a point where people are going to put 90% of their ROI and Instagram during the holiday season and Instagram shop goes down for 24 hours. Like, I'm guessing that's why there's like a slow rollout to understand what type of infrastructures needed to support it. Right.
It's such a good question. And you know, I, I see, um, both sides of the coin. One being someone who represents partnerships in sports. I'd prefer fully baked products that serve every partner that we want to serve on our platform. And inherently we have constraints across a lot of our products. Um, whether it's, um, folks on HGTV who use, you know, third party tools to upload content and get their data to 'em or I may have that as, as one example to check out being US-based, the, uh, charity or donation sticker that we introduced last month being US-based. So, and, and I do want to, I think we would release all these things that can benefit our entire user and partner base worldwide. The reality is, and this is, this is personal observation experiences, do you need to develop enough proof points to make further investment in what you're doing from a product perspective? I'm also, to your point, how do you identify, uh, issues, bugs, things that are working or that are broken so we can fix those before you scale them out to a, to a broader set of users. Um, and making sure that's really buttoned up. I think about, you know, having worked at Google and youtube for six and a half years, that was my first foray into what a product driven organization is like. And you know, how long was Gmail in Beta? I mean
it's a famous line like if you wait till it's perfect, it's too late. So you have to kind of throw it to the wolves and see.
Absolutely. And I think for us and as a partnerships organization, not even just sports but a across all verticals, we are definitely, it is our responsibility to provide enough tangible, quantitative, qualitative feedback from our partners to product and engineering so that they know what the right things are to prioritize in this ecosystem. And so we have a very, um, a very sort of strong tether relationship in that they are serving us by developing great tools and great features. We have to do a job of serving them by providing them the right directional feedback so that this whole thing is better. I was thinking like wanting to, Lakers did all season long was they would have Lebraun and the whole crew getting off the plane and they're wearing their sunglasses and their Gucci bags. And that's an Alva too, right? Where I'm sure you're looking at it from the team and athletes standpoint where if like the Lakers tag that Guzzi bag, um, and someone wants to be just like Lebron cause as you know, fanatics, they, uh, I know when I was a kid I wanted to do everything Colby Bryan did or Michael Jordan did.
So that's another layer that it's not necessarily the official Guzzi handle, but can't other brands start to be tagged by Sports Leagues and Sports Partners and uh, maybe there's a commission there or something like that too, so that there's a lot of possibilities. I thought you're going to say the Lakers did a lot of not winning over the past season. That that is true. Think you see that's because of the Brady Quinn comment all comes back to my Lakers. Exactly. Got a lot more things about Soco sports teams. The same for the next podcast. You know, the, the use cases around shopping in our platform are numerous and you hit one directly on the head of in this all sort of dove this as a superpower as well. How do you introduce the concept of creators, individuals, celebrities, athletes, contributing to the shopping experience in two in two situations. One where whether it's a little Bron or whether it is Serena and they have their own brand of which they want to transact with their consumers directly, but probably the far broader use case, which is I'm an athlete, I have a brand partnership with Gucci.
To use your example, how do I help activate Gucci through my audience? And so we introduced as part of the checkout rollout, we introduced, um, uh, a feature called shopping from creators. And we had a handful of creators and athletes, celebrities. I use creators sort of as a broad term. Yeah. Where our brand partners, the 20 plus who are involved in checkout, they selected a number of brand partners they are working with and individual partners they're working with to essentially do what you just said, which is Juju Smith Schuster in partnership with Adidas posts content on his handle to his audience. That product is tagged, his you, his fans can go and click through that purchase process, not Juju Smith's users' content. They don't have to go to Adidas as channel or account. Adidas doesn't have to wait. The game is because so many fans have a Kylie Jenner, Lebron at Juju Smith, they want to idolize or be like that person.
So if they're walking down the red carpet and you can actually see that the earrings and the purse and the clutch or whatever, like I can just see, especially on the female demo side, like fasten is so huge and they follow so many fashion influencers that I feel like that might be 80% of the game alone rather than the actual brand itself there. We have to build for both use cases. I think what's a great benefit on the first use cases that these brands are starting to do such an amazing job of creating an essence shoppable slash branded content. And they themselves have built up such substantial followings other because because they are stair transacting, merge and they're releasing drops, et Cetera, but they're also doing storytelling, right? And so I think that contributes to why they themselves are brands that go that far in terms of creating compelling content.
But they have partners, whether it's the Juju smiths or the Serena Williams or a that Candice Parker's of the world who are able to tell those stories for them, illustrate the use cases or the uses of said product and really activate as spokespeople for those brands. And we want to make sure we're building for that use case in a big way because again, many, many people on our platform are there to follow individuals. Many also come there to follow brands. But again, we know that that individuals are, that users like to follow, you know, famous people, their favorite athletes, their favorite celebrities and that they do have nuanced relationships with the brands that are, they're in there in partnership. It's funny, even at 32 years old we talked about the Lakers, they, they rolled out these new zip up hoodies for warm ups and the black and my producer will hear, he's a Laker fan too, but I really wanted the black zip up hoodie and I looked everywhere online for Nike sold down.
I went to team La store at staples center. They're sold out. Um, and long story stripe paid an exorbitant amount of money on Ebay from some person that happened to have it. But it was like one of those things where I think I originally saw it more on Instagram, more on it. They kept on reminded me on Instagram more so than the actual game cause they would post these photos of the guys running out of the tunnel. And I'm like, I want that jacket. Cause about it. Not a huge purple or gold, a fan of that color. But the black was on fire anyways. I could see, I could see that working at scale. No, for sure it could work in scale. And again, for those two use cases we just discussed, I mean I think a couple of proof points to uh, to mention on this podcast.
One is that the average sports fan, so that 320 million follower number, the average sports fan follows upwards of eight athlete accounts. And so if you think about that, to your point, athletes are in partnership with brands. That's a great way to surface and transact with your fans. But the other use case which is as, which is if not as important, is of high importance and that is 80% of Instagram users follow a business on Instagram. And so how do you also build for that use case in allow us to take friction out of that process and make sure they have a really easy, um, or really easy positive shopping experience on our platform that still allows them to go consume the things and people they love once they've made that purchase. That being said with some of the partners, and then I guess we could use the NFL as an example.
How did you see it, the results? Were you guys happy with it? Um, the usability, the, the traffic that you got. Um, did all that seemed to go exceed expectations? Like how'd you guys break down the results in terms of results without sharing any specific data? The NFLs feedback was extremely positive for a number of reasons. One, because it was really their first, I think, foray into, um, into creating shoppable content around such a big tent-pole within their sport, what, which was the NFL draft obviously. Um, and the fact that they were able to lean into Instagram in such a meaningful way and provide content that was resonant to the, uh, to their fan base. You can think about the implications of what this means for the future of their business as it broadens from a new era cap that's built just for the draft to what happens when the Cleveland browns released the Baker Mayfield Jersey, um, or the Odell Beckham Jersey now for this year.
Um, in thinking about what those moments are and how to capitalize on, on those moments. Um, you know, I would, I would venture to say that the NFL draft was, it was safe in the regard that they had a great brand partner in new era who creates for this event every year. And they, and they are, they made it, they've made a turn. I would say our partnership has evolved substantially over the past four to six months where, um, they have leaned in out the day Feldman, right, absolutely. Dave who, yeah. Unfortunately won't be at our panel anymore, but um, they blend in, in a big way of understanding. Again, as Instagram has evolved in developed business tools to support their business objectives and their bottom line, really embracing that. Um, and taking again, what was a substantial moment in the NFL calendar and seeing if we could develop proof points.
And I think there, there was so much there to allude to the future opportunity and I think that's what both parties are so excited about. In addition to the fact that at some point we'd love to get the NFL involved in the litany of tools we're building for every photo they post sells. I don't know if this is possible and you guys have talked about this, but every photo on NFL for the whole season that features a player, there could be a tag to buy that Jersey. I mean it's just like it's a pretty cool opportunity. I think I can almost be part of their strategy on not only tent pole events but potentially every piece of content the same way you tag or Hashtag your, you're doing that as well. In theory, for those of us, I mean you mentioned the Lakers, but for me I'm a Washington Redskins fan.
Think about me falling the Washington Redskins and I get to see the drop of the Dwayne Haskins Jersey as they post a picture of him in a, you know, in, in whatever jersey number he picked. I can't remember what it was. Being able to do that as well. There are some nuances in terms of shopping within the sports ecosystem that were attempting to address to take some friction out of that process. Obviously there are a lot of league deals that have been done and we want to make sure we're being really mindful of not just the value to the consumer but also the economics behind shopping for our partners and making sure that, um, that we're really delivering a ton of business value there as they are investing more resources in shoppable content. So a lot of work to be done. But I'm fortunate that I've got a great team at Instagram sports and really will Yoder and shout out to will who you know, has been leading the charge, especially with our leaks around what's shopping on Instagram can and should look like.
And um, our teams in, uh, done a great job of really of really sizing and, and describing the opportunity within sports specifically within Instagram because it's not just about fashion, it's not just about beauty, it satisfied entertainment. Sports represents such an opportunity and we've been able to really make a lot of inroads with the product to start developing around that vertical and really invest in unlocking that ecosystem at scale. So, I know we've got to wrap up here soon, but I want to get your thought. What are the key tenants or the things that you focus on when you're talking to teams, your partners, your athletes, about Instagram as a platform? What's kind of the main things that you make sure they walk away from that conversation in order to utilize the platform as efficient as you know, as, as good as possible. Yeah. You know, I feel like there are a number of social media playbooks that say a lot of the same things.
And, and I'm sure you remember from our days when I was at youtube and you were at STN and, and you were on camera in a very different way, Max Kellerman exactly. And some of that hasn't changed, right? I think it's all about, uh, playing to the strengths of why you're on digital and social to begin with. How do you speak authentically to your fans? Um, how do you speak credibly? How do you take advantage of the different services in which you can engage in? For, for Instagram specifically, it's around an ige TV, it's around stories. Uh, it's around feed and understanding the value of each surface and what can you create and where should that content exist for Q and h stories, all those different features you can use. So the interactivity piece, I can't overstate its importance in value because I'm, if there's one thing that I've, I've preached from the rafters constantly and that is if you're not using, let's take Instagram out of it, let's just say for you're not using social for two way conversation, communication, engagement, then why are you on that platform to begin with?
That is the main differences. One of the main differentiators in value adds of being on these platforms. It's why I would argue that all of our partners should be in some way, shape or form figuring out how to incorporate fans in their programming. It's why you've got twitch developing a ton of features that allow fans to sort of curate their own content experience around NFL streams. Um, and again, you look at the stories and the interactivity there. I think there's just a lot of value to be gained in engaging. And one example I think of is I'm a baseball fan and say what you want about uh, your favorite sports accounts. I actually really enjoy the fact that the MLB has done a really creative job of engaging their audience in a couple of ways. One, they actually respond to fan comments, which it's not easy to do that in a really authentic and effective way.
But they've really leaned into doing that. And I think they've seen, um, the fruits of that in terms of fans engaged in the content players engaging the mob account, which I think is super interesting. But then if you look at what they did this past weekend, the Yankees and the red sox had their series this weekend and they use the quiz sticker and they built a quiz around the history of that storied rivalry. It was really compelling. And ultimately what does that do? That probably serves their media partner in ESPN and driving to tune in for Sunday night when the episode of the Red Sox. Right. Very organic, genuine way. Yeah, absolutely. And so just the same principles apply that applied six years ago when I was at Youtube. It's just how do you do it across Instagram services and how do you make sure that your fans are being heard.
And my personal example and uh, I'll give them a shout out even though he hated on VCU, which is one of my favorite basketball teams, but, um, but you know, j bill is, is one of my favorite college basketball personalities. And as he's absolutely great, I love this young Jeezy quotes, uh, that he posts every morning. But w what is, what do you do if you're fan on use Twitter is that example, what would you do if Jay Billis responded to one of your comments, which he has done for me in the past. Me As you know, when I was instilling and nobody in, in sports, um, you know, he responded to a comment. What is the first thing I do? I share that content with all my friends and family. I like it. I retweeted and then you know what I do, I consume every other piece of content that guy's getting [inaudible] right.
Yeah, absolutely. And so while that's hard to figure out how to do it in a scalable way, if you can crack that nut and do that really effectively and authentically, then you build fans for life. Right. You said that. Cause I think anybody that's listening to this episode right now go back and listen to TJ ADOT Salva over at Twitter as well cause he very similar statement you just made. And also, you know, as growing up as sports fans debut and I like, we weren't able to go out and touch Michael Jordan and we weren't able to, you know, tweet or reply or comment on Coby Brian's stuff at least early on in his career. And I mean if Michael Jordan retweeted something, I mean it's just like, it's like, I mean I used to write notes to them and the whole deal, but like that would've been, it would've major decade.
I mean, so I can only imagine being, you forget that as we get older. But if you're a nine year old kid that's obsessed with Yannis or Lebron or whoever, I mean, just by hitting that heart button, I'm on Instagram on a comment can just make that kid's a be your, your loyal fan for life. Oh, absolutely. And what you find too is athletes, I think even more so now than then years ago are so deeply engage with their famous man, liquid Steph curry. Steph curry did with that young girl who wrote that her shoe size wasn't available for his last time. I mean, that's, that's where, you know, you really set in paths and you really see the ability for fans to engage in a, in a deep way and shout at the TJ and the team at Twitter because, um, they're fantastic. And My team is at the pleasure of working with those folks closely as well.
Uh, in those areas that you guys don't hate each other. You're not rivals. I like it positive. As I mentioned, I've gained utility on a personal level from all these platforms and they're able to serve partners in unique ways the same way Instagram is in coincidentally I think 80% of the Instagram sports and Twitter sports, uh, employee population are from the DC area. So TJ are from the same area, which is funny. Kind of funny, says a great guy and I think, you know, Dave Feldman actually told me something recently which I thought was really good. Instagram is not really competing with Twitter. They, NFL is not really competing with the NBA. We're all competing for attention. A bad your standpoint too, like you know, uh, users on your platform and staying on platform, but it's not really like us versus Twitter or like you said, NFL versus NBA.
It really is every brand, every network, everybody out there is competing for people's eyeballs and attention. I agree. And also, you know, when you think about the fact that there are different audiences on these platforms, we know the fans aren't, don't necessarily exist in one place or spending all their time in one place. I look at House of highlights, this will be my, I guess my last comment here, but you know, when hustle highlights announced their deals with snapchat and then with Twitter, my first thought wasn't why isn't house so how it's doing original content. Instagram, my thought was when are they gonna get their content in a great place where they are going to view Instagram as great distribution for their premium original content. And that's where all these things sort of work in tandem with one another. And you know, the model, you know, the models continue to evolve and evolve like I said, but um, but there, if these platforms provided by to fans and to our partners, that's overall a good thing. And as someone who's spent the last five and a half, six years on the media side of the aisle, you know, it's, it's hard out there and they have to make real serious considerations about where they spend their time and resources. And as somebody who works at Instagram, I just want to make sure that the time they spend programming to their audience on Instagram is fruitful. And if I can support their needs and challenges and opportunities, that's part of my charter. So
one quick thing for you is with the ESPN plus and bleach report live, I see a, a vision in the future where in stream on Instagram you will see a live preview with a button that allows you to watch the full game for 99 cents and the MBAs experimenting with this are those things internally and with partners you're kind of talking to out as possibilities for, again, if you're talking about keeping people in platform and user friendly for partners, that sounds like a potential next step for
yeah. Yeah, it's a great question. We had a great meeting with the NBA sort of at the, you know, in the fall of last year around that product, which I think is an amazing product. Um, in, in the short term use cases. How do you use Instagram to drive urgency around what's happening with your premium product that may live elsewhere? And I think we'll start to see more and more of our media partners and lead partners that lean into that. Um, as they figure out the economics behind their models and in sort of how that serves each other as a product feature, I could see that being something that's compelling. I think the question is where does that rank in the list of prioritization for tools that serve not just sports, but all the verticals that fall under Yasser and partnerships. And that's just true. You know, that's just a drum that I have to be internally on in the value of that because to your point, that may serve substantial business value to sports. Just how do I help scale that impact to positively effect the numerous partners across the numerous verticals.
All right. I'm still, I'm, I'm making this statement now. This is part one. We've got a whole another part two we can get into. So we'll, we'll have you on here shortly. Um, I mean, listen, our audience and everybody that's been on this podcast obsessed with Instagram, obsessed with getting granular about it, so there's so much more detailed I'm sure we can go into that can help a lot of people out there. So that was extremely helpful. I always ask this in the show. Dave, if you could recommend anybody I know you know a lot of, a lot of good people, anybody in your network that you can recommend that would provide value to the listener and be a good guest on the pod. Anybody come to mind?
Oh Man. Uh, there's, I don't want to talk to Bradley Beal so you can buy she's coming. Likers so I mean I like, I don't know about athletes. I guess if we're talking industry, I mean there's so many I could think of honestly and I, I've had the pleasure of introducing you to Brendan who straddles a number of different verticals that she can media, but I actually find the topic of UGC to be fascinating. As I was talking to one of your colleagues to this podcast around potential topics and sort of future bets, I am particularly fascinated by where UGC goes and really in really how that actually ends up serving the users in terms of can you like monetize microtransactions like, like juking gets a little bit of a, I won't say a bad rap. People always question what their business is and what they're doing, but in essence, they're serving users who otherwise would have no idea how to make money off of the content they're creating.
Right. And so I think, I think he would be interesting. Um, I'm going to give a shout out to, uh, to Armand who's the director of social ad complex because he's actually a sports guy who came from bleacher, worked at I believe cycle and now he's overseeing complex, um, the flagship brand, but complex has pursuits in sports lifestyle. I think he's a really interesting one who's, who's having to almost answer the questions that you brought up around how do you negotiate the world of social and digital and make decisions around a brand with finite resources. Right. Um, I think he would be interesting. I would obviously plug a plug my colleagues, uh, on Instagram sports if you ever wanted more Instagrammers and representation. And then, uh, and then a mall who is the new head of sports at snapchat. He and I haven't had a chance of meeting to meet in person yet. Um, but we will, we will do shortly and, and I believe he was announced as the new head of sports at snapchat less than a month ago and you might be an interesting person to gain a POV relevant snapchat is doing in sports. Um, that's both unique to them, but that also is impactful to our partners across the industry.
Love it, man. Wallah. Amazing stuff. Hold all those thoughts for 48 hours from now. I think a little, break it all down once again, but always applies to man, I really appreciate everything you've done for me so far in my career and the fringe that we've created too. So thanks so much for the time.