What comes to mind when you see a vertical video? That is, a video that is taller than it is wider.
Are you filled with unbridled rage? Do you roll your eyes at the video recorder’s laziness? Or do you simply not care either way?
Not too many years ago, filming a video vertically and posting it on the internet was considered a cardinal sin. Rage towards this type of video filming has filled countless internet chatrooms, and even Google redesigned their Android photo and video camera to encourage people to turn their phone sideways when they shoot video. The hatred for vertical videos also spawned a full-fledged PSA against the dangers of “Vertical Video Syndrome.”
Why are so many people so irritated by vertical videos from smartphones? Before YouTube decided to support the vertical 9:16 aspect ratio format with an update a few years ago, vertical videos would often appear with two gigantic black bars on either side. Since few video content platforms supported vertical videos correctly, the videos were often squashed in order to fit the correct aspect ratios.
To say this was visually unappealing would be an understatement. People not only hated the look, but they hated the lack of care taken by the video recorder.
People see horizontally. A vertical video is naturally annoying because it takes away the peripheral vision. It is doubly egregious for professional video editors because editing vertical video is a huge headache.
Some filmmakers have shot films using the vertical video format, which were often met with the same vitriol and disgust as normal vertical videos. When you watch TV, a movie, or use any other screen bigger than an iPad, it is almost always shot and delivered horizontally. That’s what people are used to.
Why the Shift to Vertical Video?
As Instagram and Snapchat have grown in popularity, vertical video has become more widely produced and accepted. It all went into overdrive when Snapchat created its “Stories” feature, which allows users to post up to 10 seconds of vertical video, easily consumed on the mobile phone format. Instagram quickly stole the idea and now has over 300 million daily active users using its Stories format.
Social media may be at the forefront of the vertical video trend, but it is not the sole reason why this format has risen. Consider that the average American spends nearly 500 hours a year on their mobile phone. That fact alone means that mobile marketing is becoming more important than ever before. Vertical video is becoming the go-to format for most video media because:
Our Phones Are Made for Shooting Vertical Video
People hold their phones vertically nearly 94 percent of the time. When an advertisement forces them to hold the phone horizontally, disengagement jumps to 50 percent. It’s good to stick with what works.
Social Media Is All Vertical Now
Most people spend a majority of their time on the internet on social media sites, and 61 percent of that activity is on smartphones. Researchers estimate that by 2019, there will be 2.77 billion mobile social media users in the world, which means video format will be critical.
Vertical Is More Engaging Because It Seems More Personal
Snapchat recently found that vertical video recordings had nine times the completion rate of horizontal videos. Users find these videos more engaging because they tend to focus on one speaker and make the user feel like they are the one being addressed.
Can IGTV Bring Legitimacy to Vertical Videos?
Despite the increased relevance of vertical video, most people still frown upon it. The decision to use vertical video depends on the format and cannot be applied everywhere. That’s where IGTV comes in.
Instagram recently rolled out IGTV, which is a long-form, vertical video service. Many in the video production industry think Instagram’s IGTV has the best chance to bring legitimacy to vertical videos, since it has over 800 million users and 500 million daily users.
Those users are spending more than 80 percent of their time on Instagram watching videos instead of viewing pictures. This confluence of factors coupled with the platform’s natural predilection towards vertical videos could finally shift the tide towards producing vertical video content.
Brands would be wise to jump on the vertical video advertising bandwagon, considering that Instagram has doubled its advertisers from one million in early 2017 to now over two million. The long-form nature of IGTV provides a better opportunity for brands to create effective advertising, since video content decreases the chance users will swipe away, as they do with so many current social media ads. (If you or your brand needs to measure this content, our partners over at Delmondo can help you do exactly that)
In addition to Instagram, other brands are also experimenting in the field of vertical video. Netflix started previewing all of its shows on mobile in the vertical video format. Spotify recently released a vertical music video for Selena Gomez’s song “Back to You.” HQ, the popular game show app, live streams all of its games in a vertical video format.
This new format is clearly taking off, but creators are doling it out piecemeal. A recent University of Pennsylvania study concluded that buy-in from only 25 percent of a population is enough to trigger large-scale social change. With IGTV becoming a huge part of Instagram’s 800 million users’ social media lives, it seems that 25 percent threshold may be upon us within months. Therefore, brands should find ways to maximize their reach on Instagram’s IGTV.
The Importance of Vertical Video for Today’s Brands
The emergence of vertical video is an example of how video content production is being democratized. People have more options than ever before for creating content. IGTV is another iteration of these options in the fervidly competitive arena of video content creation. Instagram saw the emerging market for vertical video, especially with the advent of Stories and an increased willingness from advertisers to make vertical video content.
Today’s users shoot not only their pictures but their videos in the vertical video format. It became the norm in social media because it was easier to capture a quick moment with one hand than to grip the phone with two hands. The modern smartphone is designed to be vertical a majority of the time, so it only made sense that social media apps would eventually adopt that same vertical video design. The augmented reality revolution, kickstarted by the iPhone X, may also lead to more immersive content that doesn’t need the real estate a horizontal video provides.