Instagram’s potential competitor to YouTube, IGTV, has always had one major downside for content creators — lack of monetization.
And while news broke yesterday that Instagram may finally be allowing IGTV creators to run ads, some content producers have already found unique ways to generate revenue from the platform.
One such channel is Hashtag Daily, which also holds the mantle of being the first daily soap opera to launch exclusively on IGTV.
Professionally recorded in and around Germany, the startup behind Hashtag Daily was founded in Munich by CEO Anna Juliana Jaenner — a former actor in Germany’s well-established TV-series “Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten” — Hashtag Daily features some of the DACH region’s most influential actors, each of them “Insta famous” with millions of combined followers. It first aired in September 2019.
The show is typical of any soap opera you’ve ever seen, showing the good and bad in modern life and love. Think a classier “Made in Chelsea,” but in the German language. But what isn’t typical is how Jaenner and her team have managed to monetize the channel, despite an 18-month wait for any official revenue capability from IGTV.
Jaenner went eyes wide open into this enterprise, knowing that monetizing IGTV could be a serious challenge.
“When we started Hashtag Daily we knew that from a business model perspective it would be similar to a TV channel, that also produces and buys content to sell advertisement slots,” Jaenner said. “We are working with product placement, which is typical for influencer marketing and are very happy with how it turns out.”
So Hashtag Daily earns revenue from business owners, such as the restaurants, nightclubs, and bars, and other brands, such as car manufacturers and fashion labels, all of which pay to be featured in the show. Of course, it discloses this properly, something many influencers are guilty of not doing when advertising on behalf of a brand.
While this all sounds relatively simple, building Hashtag Daily hasn’t been without its challenges.
“One of the biggest challenges is to find timeslots when all our highly booked influencers and actors have time to shoot the next episodes,” Jaenner said. “Also it’s a challenge to find the right kind of approach to create a series that fits the need of IGTV audience.”
Despite the challenges, Jaenner is ultimately happy with the result, and the people she works with to create the show.
“The most rewarding part for me personally is the amazing group of people and talents we gathered to create Hashtag Daily,” Jaenner said. “They support each other like crazy and we are more and more becoming the Hashtag Daily Family — together we have more than 1.8 million followers and creatives from all kinds of areas. From a business perspective, it is most rewarding to create what we call Social TV, a new form of entertainment that is somewhere between gaming and TV and is designed to reach a younger audience.”
But that’s not all. By positioning as a media startup, Hashtag Daily has been able to do something few influencers ever have.
Today, Hashtag Daily has announced that it has now been accepted into the Next Media accelerator program. The company will make use of Next Media’s network, community, expertise, and infrastructure of the accelerator in order to further develop and produce the IGTV channel.
And while the amounts are not being disclosed, Hashtag Daily receives funding as part of this program. Sources tell me that initial funding within Next Media’s accelerator program is usually in the order of $50k.
So what’s next for Hashtag Daily?
“The last 10 episodes of season three will be published in February,” Jaenner said. “We are now in pre-production of season four of Hashtag Daily. We took all the learnings from the first three seasons and are creating something that fits the audience’s needs even better than before. Also, we are launching two spin-offs that are more like reality tv, but that are highly interactive. One focuses on finding love and dating, and one is very fashion-focused that will be in English for a more international audience.”