Thanks to television and cinema we’ve grown accustomed to watching video horizontally for over 60 years. But, regardless of that history, since the very first smartphone, people have shot and continued shooting videos while holding their phones vertically.
Although many professional videographers and photographers lament and police the scourge of the vertical video, mobile video is an ever growing portion of video viewing and content consumption, and because we are using devices with tall screens that are best held in a vertical orientation, vertical videos look more natural and work better than horizontal videos.
VERTICAL VIDEOs ARE MORE ENGAGING
For the most part, we are obsessed with smartphones. It doesn’t matter where you look whether you’re sitting on a plane or train, or shopping, everyone, and I mean everyone is browsing their phones, and they are doing so vertically. Even when watching video, [studies] are showing that people just don’t rotate their phones.
Advertisers who were the first to test-drive vertical videos on Snapchat saw up to nine* times more engagement compared to horizontal videos. Since this revelation a year ago, Snapchat has gone all-in delivering verticality in all its content, which includes messaging, live stories, and channels. If you read between the lines there you’d have picked up that what that means is Snapchat’s billion dollar valuation and future earnings is critically connected to vertical video ads or vertical video in general.
Instagram, with 500 million users and counting, has, for the most part, made updates catering to advertising since being acquired by Facebook. On August 27th 2015, Instagram rolled out full support for landscape and portrait formats. This, along with its switch to an algorithm-fuelled timeline were no doubt done spur growth and engagement rates that have previously shown signs of slowing down. Since then, Instagram has maintained the highest per-follower engagement rate of any social platform. The ability for Instagram’s videos and Stories to play while held in vertical is integral in all of this.
Unlike many of us, especially in the visual medium community, most smartphone users (read: creators and consumers) aren’t overthinking it. They’ve long felt vertical videos are more natural and data suggests that it drives results. If you’ve recently caught it, the new Underworld movie has released vertical video versions of its trailer, and the traction is has compared to the rest is astounding.
What this all adds up to is, for your business, dismissing vertical video as a passing phenomenon would be a mistake. With 30% of our collective screen time spent with devices that are best held vertically, the future of video, it turns out, just might be vertical.