Since the advent of the camera phone, portrait video has been an unforgivable bugbear for almost every video maker and viewer. Even now, for many the term ‘Vertical Video’ still evokes memories of grainy mobile phone footage and nightmarish attempts of stretching to fit frames. The format was so widely disliked that it even gave rise to parody PSAs advising the public against using portrait, an attempt to stem the endless tide of ‘black-barred’ amateur video.
In recent years however, the amount of vitriol for vertical video has dramatically reduced. With recent data showing just over half of global video views to be on a (presumably portrait) mobile device, perhaps it is time to rethink the previously faux-pas-ish format?
In data released over the last couple of months, stats suggesting Vertical Video’s return across multiple platforms have begun to speak for themselves. In 2015, the number of vertical videos uploaded to YouTube increased by 50%, prompting YouTube to alter their mobile app to allow vertical playback.
Snapchat, an almost entirely Vertical platform, has seen video views grow by almost 400% over the last year, with up to 22% of senior advertising executives planning to use the vertical platform in their campaigns. Even Facebook has made the leap, with preliminary statistics suggesting that Facebook’s new vertical ads garner as many as three times as many views as traditional horizontal ads.
Why has the vertical video waited until now to make a return? One of the biggest nods for the vertical revival of course goes to the huge rise of Snapchat in the last two years, both in the user and marketing spheres. Predominantly portrait, the huge increase in daily views for both users and brands since the platform introduced the ‘Discover’ feature has fuelled a rush for innovative vertical format videos to reach over 150 million daily Snapchat users.
Even before the inception of ‘Discover’ however, Snapchat has had conclusive viewer habits data consistently on its side. One of Snapchat’s flagship brand ‘story’ ads, a precursor to ‘Discover’, featured Audi’s Le Man’s coverage in vertical vertical and saw an instant completion rate increase of 80% higher than the average automotive ad at a huge 36%. After this initial success, Audi’s ad tech firm Celtra announced that for them, “Video will be predominantly vertical going forwards”
Audi were not the only brand to see the early potential of Snapchat marketing and vertical video. Brands as large as AT&T, NBC and Target all successfully implemented Snapchat early into their campaigns, with the most notable being Taco Bell’s project ‘Rush Order’, a 4 minute short published through the platform to announce a new Doritos Loco Taco. The video, depicting an intern trying the new taco shell flavour, garnered 74 million impressions and doubled the brands number of Snapchat followers overnight.
How is Vertical currently being used?
Now vertical video has successfully earned its stripes as a commercially viable format, this new orientation has already begun to show its potential for new and exciting content.
Model and fashion blogger Chriselle Lim appropriated the vertical video format for several parts of her multi-platform social-media presence, most notably her Snapchat-themed Youtube series ‘What I wore’. Taking elements of Snapchat such as the overlade Neue Helvetica text and snappy transitions, Lim also frames her content entirely portrait as to provide a catwalk-esque feel as opposed to the vlog-style landscape videos earlier in the series.
Amongst her subscribers the change in format has been a wild success, with every new vertical video being flooded with comments praising how the well the video works on a mobile platform. Since the introduction of the change in May 2016, her channel has seen a growth of approximately 20%, over 100,000 subscribers in 6 months, standing as even more evidence that with appropriately framed and edited content, vertical is the way forward.
As always, when making predictions for video marketing trends one must always look for opportunities for integration. Facebook already allows for 360-degree vertical video, a milestone that few brands have been quick to take up on, though the format unfortunately doesn’t lend itself to VR capabilities.
The most exciting potential for the format however lies in its mobile take-up, allowing for touchscreen features like ‘Shoppable Video’ (as shown here by Ted Baker’s new campaign). With vertical video being almost exclusively viewed on mobile touchscreen devices, the potential for interactive video is only just begun being explored.