Jill Sherman, SVP, Social Strategy, and Randy Romero, Senior Associate, Social Strategy
We’ve been hearing about “the rise of” vertical video for more than a year, with Snapchat leading the charge. But Facebook’s recent vertical update not only solidified this upright orientation in our feeds. It signaled a shift in consumer’s appetite for vertical storytelling. Previously, Facebook users and advertisers were encouraged to post videos in either the traditional widescreen (16:9) or square (1:1) aspect ratios, but with Facebook officially jumping on bandwagon, brands need to shift too.
How Pervasive Is Vertical Becoming?
Vervid launched the first immersive video platform designed for sharing and discovering vertical HD video. Verly launched as the first online marketplace that specializes in vertical stock video and photography. And the Vertical Film Festival featuring short, 9:16 submissions celebrated it’s second annual celebration in May 2016.
Social Is Driving Adoption
Millions of photos, videos and selfies are taken vertically every day, and apps such as Snapchat, Periscope, and Pinterest have all capitalized on this behavior. With well over 100 million daily active users, Snapchat has already proven that users are not only more willing to capture more content, but also willing to consume video without having to rotate their phones.
Media Is Following Suit
With social media users digesting more mobile-specific content than ever before, it’s essential for advertisers to start optimizing their content by adding vertical videos into their repertoire. And while social apps like Snapchat and Facebook have increased the popularity of vertical video, publishers and media companies like The Washington Post, the BBC news app, Vox, Teads and Conde Nast have embraced the vertical format.
Advrtas, a rich media ad platform, has also launched a first-of-its kind vertical 360 virtual reality ad unit. The user experience, while dynamic, is limited to looking down at a mobile device. This is because immersive VR headsets (like Oculus) are oriented horizontally to maximize field of view.
The Data Is Compelling
According to Eric Blattberg of Digiday, publishers and marketers who once dismissed vertical video as an amateurish mistake are changing their perspective. “That’s in large part due to changing consumption habits that are making mobile the norm rather than the exception.”
• Smartphone users hold their phones vertically about 94 percent of the time. (Source: MOVR Mobile Overview Report)
• Millenials are 2x as likely to be focused on video they watch on their mobile devices as they are on video consumed on a TV. (Source: Ooyala Global Video Index)
• Vertical video ads are watched all the way through 9 times more than horizontal video ads on Snapchat. (Source: Snapchat)
• More than 7 billion video clips are viewed daily on Snapchat, the majority which are vertically filmed. (Source: Snapchat)
• According to Mary Meeker's 2015 Internet Trends, vertical viewing now accounts for 29% of view time, compared to 5% just five years ago. (Source: KPCB)
Don't Fear The Crop
At first glance, shifting to vertical videos could be seen as a hurdle for advertisers. Television ads and digital videos that are traditionally shot on a 16:9 aspect ratio are often not suited to be cropped to a 2:3 (vertical) aspect ratio – important elements such as text and background/scenery are bound to be cut out.
To avoid accidental cropping and guarantee that videos gain maximum full-screen real estate, content creators must develop videos with social media feeds in mind. This means shooting vertical video in addition to landscape, or editing videos to vertical specs in post-production.
More efficient brands will further feed-proof their creative so that it’s captioned, short, and simple enough for users to digest while scrolling through their feed. With 54% of Facebook users solely on their mobile device, it’s highly recommended that content teams begin to produce and edit video specifically for smartphones.
Vertical Video Done Right
Vertical video takes up the entire mobile screen on your phone, which provides more real estate to tell a richer visual story. Brands that have embraced the vertical video format are already seeing pretty stellar results. Jason Stein, CEO of Laundry Service, has seen success with LG vertical video ads, which he reports to be receiving CPM rates that are 3x more efficient than standard square videos on Facebook. Snapchat has also has seen success with vertical video via their Snap Ads platform. Snapchat reports that Shock Top saw brand awareness improve by 15 points and purchase intent rise 22% around millennial consumers—all from a 10 second Snap Ad.
So What’s Next?
According to Zohar Dayan at Mobile Marketer, “adopting vertical video is more about adapting to the ebb and the flow of consumer expectations.” And while vertical won’t completely replace horizontal video, being heard in an increasingly relevant way means more reach and exposure opportunities for brands. Think of screen orientation as the latest “full screen” tool for meaningful connection in an increasingly mobile world.