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Going native: the rise of vertical video

Going native: the rise of vertical video

With the roll out of native video capabilities across most social channels and mobile apps, where the feed is primarily vertical, portrait video format increasingly needs to be considered.

In the past I have been a ‘vertical videos are bad’ advocate, mostly because on video-focused social channels like YouTube and Vimeo, they look terrible. Vertical used to signal amateurish, whereas the more traditional landscape format is associated with high-end productions.


However, the ever evolving changes in video consumption and native video capabilities are making mobile video a new medium. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015 says 29 per cent of mobile videos are vertical views. This is a rise of 24 per cent since 2010.

vertical v horizontal

Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Presentation 2015

When horizontal videos appear on most social channels (even YouTube), they play in a downsized screen with an ugly black bar above and below. Turning your phone sideways to view a short video causes unnecessary disruption, especially if it’s only 30 seconds long. When a video is shot vertically, like this Emily Skye video, there is no need to turn your phone.

 horizontal video example

Horizontal video on mobile

As the popularity of Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat grows, so does their vertical perspectives. Snapchat have said that video ads in vertical format have nine times more completed views than horizontal video ads.

Fitness and fashion bloggers are already ahead of the curve, serving up short snippets of video on Instagram and Snapchat, while Snapchat’s partner channels (Comedy Central, ESPN and Cosmopolitan) are all examples of big brands who are leading the way in vertical video.

emily vertical

Vertical video on mobile

The rise of socially-led vertical video requires adaptation. For Facebook campaigns, it could be a simple tweak to your targeting strategy to only serve vertical videos to mobile audiences. From a platform point of view, it will be interesting to see if traditional video channels like YouTube adapt and if they’ll allow you to choose horizontal or vertical video upload and display in future.

In this instance, disruptive innovation means not disrupting the behaviour of your audience. To maintain engagement, minimising effort for your audience is key.