Instagram Videos Now Loop, and Here’s Why Brands Are So Excited About It

The Gap releases a micro-series made for repeat

Instagram's new, endlessly repeating video loops make it easier for users to keep watching without having to click "play" over and over again. They're also giving brands a new way to get creative, as seen today when The Gap launched a micro-series on Instagram tied to the looping function.

Instagram, which has more than 300 million users announced the Vine-like video feature today. Brands were among the first to post clips taking advantage of the loop. GoPro, a popular sharer on the app, posted a pair of skis hitting the snow in slow motion. The National Basketball Association shared a highlight reel of emerging Miami Heat star Hassan Whiteside.

But the brand best positioned to take advantage of the looping video was The Gap, which debuted a new micro-show on Instagram, featuring actors Jenny Slate (Obvious Child) and Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine). Wieden+Kennedy New York helped develop it. 

"The nature of the videos is that you get something different every time you play them," said Tricia Nichols, Gap's global leader of consumer engagement, media strategy and brand partnerships, referring to the 12-part series. "The story twists and turns, and there are little Easter eggs. So it's the perfect opportunity for video loops."

The Gap series, billed as the "weirdest love story ever Instagrammed," is timed to the lead-up to its spring clothing line and will have a new installment every week. The Gap will share the videos on platforms like YouTube, too, and it will pay to sponsor the posts on Instagram, Nichols said.

And there's another format that could find more use on Instagram now that loops are possible: The GIF. While not technically GIFs, the continuously playing videos mimic them and could repackage existing content from other sites.

"It makes a lot of sense. With the success that Tumblr has had with GIFs and Twitter with Vine, it's been proven that there's something mesmerizing about the loop feature," said Michael Kelly, social media manager for Red Vines, the licorice company. "The loops just lend themselves to the creativity of the Internet. And it's consistent with the way people consume content on Instagram already."

Late last year, Instagram started serving its first video ads, which have been used by the likes of Disney to market movies and Electronic Arts to promote video games. "Advertisers will certainly be happy that their sponsored posts will continue to play," Kelly said.