Fred thoughts
The rise of the 'vertical video'.
Nov 2018

Everyday millions of photos and videos are taken on smartphones – vertically. The natural orientation of our phones, coupled with human laziness means that we’re more likely to capture moments in a vertical format, rather than horizontally – or landscape.

According to a recent Mobile Overview Report, we smartphone users hold our phones vertically around 94% of the time. In previous years, if we wanted to view online videos, we would have had to turn our phones 90 degrees. But thanks to the growing trend of the vertical video, this has changed.

You just need to look at Snapchat, Pinterest and now Instagram who have all capitalised on this trend to see how far we have come. Going ‘vertical’ is one of the biggest trends to emerge on social media over the last two years and it continues to grow. Last year YouTube became the latest platform to jump on the bandwagon, redesigning its website so that when users play vertical videos, they will no longer see the ugly black bars along the sides.

With this in mind, businesses need to make the shift too. We talked recently about the power of video marketing and why it’s important that organisations use this tool to engage with their target audience.

Vertical video is much more aligned with user behaviour. As consumers increasingly view online content through mobile devices, we must adapt to accommodate this. Snapchat reports that vertical videos are watched all the way through nine times more than horizontal videos are. This shift in consumer appetite for vertical story telling means that brands need to adapt too.

But doing this isn’t as easy as just turning the camera around and the rise of the vertical video certainly presents challenges. For designers and videographers, vertical video is not an easy format to adopt. All footage and animation need to be resized to vertical or even square video format to work. We also need to be mindful of the various video aspect ratios and duration restrictions that social media and other viewing platforms demand.

But it presents opportunities too. Video features, especially on social media platforms, provide opportunities for a whole new level of audience engagement. The addition of online polls, stickers, links and even augmented reality help shape the story telling and enhance the interactive element of the experience. Suddenly we have a very powerful new tool for brands to engage their audiences with.

When viewing on a smartphone, the vertical orientation offers immediacy and allows viewers to sift through masses of content with the tap of a finger. So organisations have to produce stories that grab attention and captivate right from the start.

Horizontal video content will of course always have its place, with TV, movies and longer live streams. The orientation of video is very platform-specific. Something that works well on social media might not be appropriate for television.

As marketers, we need to take note of how consumers are viewing content and adapting accordingly, looking at how we think the content will be viewed and the best way to engage our audiences.

Much of this is based simply on the ergonomics of how we hold our phones – but it can’t be ignored.

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