13th Nov 2019
Vertical is the new horizontal – and it’s here to stay. Not all that long ago, publishing a vertical video would have been the tell-tale giveaway of an amateur producer. Appearing awkward and clunky on platforms designed for traditional horizontal viewing, the message would often be lost straight away. Not any more.
Thanks to the ever-increasing ubiquity of smartphones and the rise of platforms such as Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram, there’s a growing preference for capturing videos in our phone’s native vertical or ‘portrait’ format. This 90° shift (or lack of) has not only affected how we choose to shoot videos; it’s also completely changed how we consume them.
So, how impactful can vertical be? Well, vertical video ads have been found to register up to nine times more completed views than horizontal video ads. For Wibbitz, a platform that allows you to create automated videos, the usage of vertical videos equalled a 130% increase in views, and 4 times more engagement on Facebook.
This is the new norm. 94% of mobile phone users hold their phone vertically when watching a video - even if it was intended to be watched horizontally. In 2018, YouTube revealed big changes including a new vertical video ad format. And that’s simply because more than 70% of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices. So, the question is: how to keep up?
Vertical video helps you stay up to date with your customer’s habits and connection with the digital world. Most smartphones are only held vertically because, although it sounds lazy, most people won’t bother turning their phones for a short horizontal video. Some even prefer to skip the content entirely. Horizontal videos only tend to be viewed in the correct mode when the content itself is a couple of minutes long – a TV show or vlog, for example.
Like YouTube, other apps are adjusting to this new way of viewing life, even choosing to support vertical viewing over horizontal. For example, a horizontally recorded video appears shrunken when shared on Instagram and Snapchat, affecting the quality and subsequently, engagement.
The format of your video depends on where you’ll be sharing it. YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram favour vertical videos, for example.
Video length is also an important consideration. Vertical videos leave no room for distraction when you’re holding your phone normally - they fill the entire screen! So, if you want to engage viewers with short, snappy and fully immersive content on their mobile, vertical is your best bet. However, keep lengthy content and anything designed for viewing on TV or laptops horizontal.
In vertical videos, the viewer’s eyes focus on the middle of the screen. In horizontal videos, they track from left to right. To keep viewers engaged, consider varying your angles and frame your main subject. One of the greatest advantages to having a video in a vertical frame is the ability to focus solely on one thing, emphasising your content and retaining viewers’ attention. Be sure to actively fill up the vertical space – this automatically happens when you get close to the subject, but you can also raise the camera high, tilt it down or use a bird’s eye view for a more immersive video.
Visual elements like text, overlays, arrows, stop-motion and subtitles create dimension in the video, helping your viewers stay glued to the screen. A good tip is to split the screen in half or add frames to show multiple angles of your product or main subject – this means you can emphasise the most important points with each frame! You should also consider where your video is being posted since videos in the form of Instagram Stories will need to be formatted into 15-second chunks.
The message is clear: vertical video is taking over, so embrace the change. And if your horizontal videos aren’t landing as they should: consider a 90° shift.