Instagram is to show how many views a video has received in a bid by the Facebook-owned service to compete with rivals such a Google for advertising dollars.
Videos posted on Instagram will now show a view count where the number of likes used to be, similar to the way Facebook shows the number of views on its site and app.
The idea, according to analysts, is to attract more brands and content producers – which has been YouTube's tactic for a while – to platforms like Facebook and Instagram and get them to pay more money for advertising.
"If you want to attract branded content, having a view count is essential," Richard Broughton, research director at Ampere Analysis, told CNBC by phone.
"Unlike ad-impressions, for which your campaign management will deliver detailed statistics, for branded videos and product placement there isn't an obvious, independent and verifiable currency for measuring the success and reach of a series of videos. Publishing a view count means that brands are no longer reliant on statistics shared by the video creator and can independently check performance of videos featuring their product and brands."
Broughton also said that it acts as a "calling card" for advertisers who will be able to see the commercial implications of advertising on Instagram by showing how many views videos are getting.
Mobile on the rise
Video has recently become a huge area of focus for Facebook. The company claimed that it now clocks up 100 million hours of video watched per day on its social network. YouTube does not break out specific stats but said that people watch "hundreds of millions of hours" a day on the platform. But independent figures show that video views on Facebook exceeded two trillion in 2015, or two-thirds of YouTube's total for the same period, according to Ampere Analysis.
At the same time, video ad spend in the U.S. is expected to hit $9.59 billion this year, a 28.5 percent year-on-year rise, with a large percentage of that growth on mobile, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile, mobile is expected to account for 82 percent of Facebook's U.S. digital ad revenue this year, with Instagram expected to earn $1.48 billion globally in mobile ad revenues. In the U.S., Instagram will represent 20.1 percent of Facebook's total mobile ad revenues, eMarketer forecasts. YouTube ad revenue was up 4.6 percent last year, reaching $4.28 billion worldwide.
As Facebook tries to boost the views on its platform it has rolled out a number of new features including live-streaming to take on the likes of Twitter-owned Periscope. Last year, chief executive of the social networking site Mark Zuckerberg said that content creators will eventually pocket a revenue share from video views.
This is the tactic that has made YouTube so popular with content creators and led to the rise of YouTube stars who command millions of dollars a year through advertising and product deals. Facebook will be hoping to attract the same level of talent as well as brands looking for creative ways to advertise.
"Adding view counts is the first of many ways you'll see video on Instagram get better this year," the photo sharing service said in a blog on Thursday, signaling that there are more features to come.