“It’s not necessarily that vertical is better, it’s just that it’s how cellphones are commonly viewed.”
– Shaun McBride, Snapchat celebrity
Human behavior is interesting. You would assume turning your phone to watch a video on optimal size would not be too hard task, but it is. Based on my anthropologic research on trains in Singapore practically everyone is looking videos having the phone on vertical position. Mobile phones are designed to be used vertically and we spend already 30% of our screen time in vertically oriented devices. It is just natural that majority of videos are watched on vertical position as well.
How brands should address the rise of the vertical video?
1. Start native vertical video production
We will see a rise of vertical-first video production. Snapchat has already been advocating the brands to start create video content vertically. In Snapchat vertical videos are more effective, portrait videos have up to 9x more completed views than landscape ones. Will this create some kind of new way of video storytelling? That remains to be seen, because we have not yet realized all the possibilities of vertical video. Could the story be different from horizontal and vertical point-of-view?
Portrait is definitely not the best format for longer-form content as our eyes are aligned horizontally, but majority of the content consumed on smartphones is already short-form. There are certain apps like Vervid, which are designed to bridge the gap or more traditional horizontal video production and the snapchat generation. When YouTube and Facebook will introduce vertical video ad units, it really starts to make sense to start creating vertical-first content.
2. Enhance your horizontal videos to fit the vertical ad formats
More interim solution would be to create horizontal content, but utilize the blank spaces to showcase display ads or maybe offer promotions. This works especially when you have horizontal asset, no money for vertical-first production but still want to engage audience in Snapchat. Here is a demo of that approach:
94% of website visits in smartphones starts in portrait mode, so it only makes sense that brands take advantage of vertical video. Changing behavior is hard, tapping into existing behavior is easier and usually much more lucrative as well. Popularity of portrait video is another example on how you cannot separate the technologic shifts and media behavior from your creative thinking.