The Rise of Vertical Videos: is it The Next Big Thing?

For many years we have taken the 16:9 to be the ultimate format, we always thought we needed to view a video horizontally to see it clearly. However, in this article you’ll be introduced to a whole new light of understanding how a vertical video format is now becoming so close to being a standard for mobile video consumption and how the vertically-oriented videos are taking over mobiles landscape.


The portrait mode comes in different sizes and shapes, but generally speaking, a vertical video means that it comes with a 9:16 ratio. Which means who holds the phone will be only holding the phone vertically. However, it does differ between a platform to another.


Embracing Vertical Video

The vertical video has been over shining the landscape video for the past few years and it’s simply because Vertical videos give better results with people who hold their phones upright, which is mainly most of the time!

Supporting this change is a report by Snapchat saying “vertical video ads have up to nine times more completed views than horizontal video ads.” This means that people nowadays are more likely to watch a video vertically more than horizontally even if it was an ad.

Now, this is a change that we cannot let pass by without making the best of it, which in this case would be optimizing our videos to mobile viewers, more people will be watching it on their phones.


Snapchat Adoption for the Vertical videos

Snapchat played a huge part in the evolution of the vertical videos; it boasts more than 10 billion video views daily and over 400 million Snapchat stories are created every day.

Snapchat has been leading the revolution of the Vertical videos across the Social media, and the other Social networks followed through according to the progress the vertical videos established throughout the past years which managed to give back great results to both users and owners.

A very good reason for that huge difference is how fast Snapchat adapted to the vast preferences change of the users, which mainly occurred due to the advent of Smartphones. Researches suggested that people tend to hold their phone vertically most of the time, normally when there’s any action that you want to capture, you’ll definitely find yourself holding your phone vertically by default.


Facebook Adoption for the Vertical Videos

According to Facebook, the reason for such growth is the fact that it all goes back to science. Viewers see the videos with better details when the phone is held vertically instead of horizontally, as the eyelids would only be moving up and down and will be able to grasp the entire picture, however on a landscape mode, viewers need to be moving their eyelids right and left as well, accordingly, viewers tend to watch vertical videos more often than horizontally, it requires less effort and gives better results, this small scientific fact helped improving the viewers experience and maximized their engagement and viewership.

The specs of Facebook vertical videos are as follows:

  • Supported Aspect Ratios: (16:9) for a full landscape and 9:16 for a full vertical screen 
  • Mobile phone feeds: videos will be rendered to an aspect ratio of 2:3, aspect ratio anywhere between 2:3 and 9:16 will have a masking of 2:3
  • Desktop feeds and video players: in the desktop feeds, portrait videos will still be letter-boxed with a ratio of 1:1. As for desktop players, vertical videos will be 9:16 without letter-boxing.
  •  Portrait Mode Recommended Aspect Ratio: it’ll be (9:16) which is a full portrait screen, to make sure the main content falls in the 2:3 mask for mobile feeds.

Apart from all the confusing numbers here’s what matters, the Vertical videos are now supported on Facebook without letter-boxing, even though it’s not full adopting considering the fact that it still has to be letter-boxed on the desktop feed, it’s still pretty great! Facebook got over two billion users, adopting the vertical videos actually did increase the video viewers rate, which means if you optimize your videos to 9:16 (full portrait) that will be getting you more views and could help you uplift your entire marketing strategies.


People usually hold their phones vertically, as people go through their phone during their day, at work or walking down the street or on the bus, they will need you to make it easy for them to watch the videos on their news feed, if a video has to be watched on a full landscape mode then it will be a bigger change for them to swipe down or skip your ad. On the other hand, if it’s not letter-boxed and does not require holding the phone differently -AKA vertical mode- then why not watch it while we’re at it and no effort required?


YouTube Adoption for the Vertical Videos

According to the Company’s announcement on September 12th, 2018. “more than 70% of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices. To engage these viewers effectively with TrueView and Universal App campaigns, it’s important to adapt to their viewing behaviors and create a variety of different video ads – including square and vertical videos”.

YouTube used to play a bit of the vertical videos; the standard format was the horizontal format (landscape) just like any other platform over the past period. However, with the changes led by Snapchat then Facebook, YouTube started adopting the Vertical videos and already formatted its own 1:1 square video on its platforms. Even though it started with the letter-boxing (two thick black bars on the sides). at first, viewers were unable to view the videos properly in full screen even on their smartphones. Over the years YouTube gave up some of it’s privileges, in 2015, YouTube made some tweaks necessary to view the vertical videos in full screen. However, it was only applied on the Android devices.


It took two more years for YouTube to finally display the Vertical videos with no letter-boxing all over it’s mobile platforms. And during the summer of 2018, YouTube finally published a vertical video convenient for desktop players that displayed vertical video without letter-boxing on its websites and social media embeds.

with that change in YouTube made adapting to the users behavior, now anyone can upload a vertical video on YouTube, knowing that even vertical ads get more and more viewers every day, that will be quite helpful to improve the marketing strategies all over the platforms.


Instagram Adoption for Vertical Videos

On the 20th of June 2018, Instagram published IGTV, which is a built-in application on Instagram, it is a standalone Vertical Video application for Android and IOS, it mainly gives the option to upload longer videos, you can upload up to a 20 minutes long Vertical video on the IGTV.

And IGTV is very simple to use. In the Instagram app, you just click the new button at the top right, and IGTV starts playing automatically.

Once you have the App started, it is very easy to navigate, you get to choose the categories you like, you can look up the category you want and continue watching. Once you get the video you want to watch you swipe down the search tab and enjoy a perfect full vertical video.


IGTV allows uploads up to 10 minutes with a file size up to 650 MB, the verified and popular users are allowed to upload videos up to 60 minutes long with a file size up to 3.6 GB.

What does this mean for your business?

As per the above, vertical videos are more likely to be watched more than it is likely for a landscape video to be watched, yes, it used to be the exact opposite. However, times are changing and the faster you optimize your videos and ads to vertical format, the more it’s likely for you to uplift your business.

Of course, this is not guaranteed to uplift all kinds of business, knowing the audience is the key to know exactly what to present.

However, if you decide to go ahead and optimize your videos to vertical, here are some reasons to support your decision:

  • People naturally hold their phones vertically almost all the time, which means it’s much easier for them to take out their phone and watch than it is easy for them to rotate their phone!
  • People use their phones to access the social media a lot more than they do on their computers, so a vertical mode is more required to be available on social media platforms, and that’s where you target your audience with the right content.
  • The most used social media applications are now supporting vertical videos, that includes Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
  • A Vertical ad video is more likely to be watched more than it is likely to be watched in horizontal format.

Viewers want what is easier to watch, people are more likely to skip an ad or a video if they found that they need to hold the phone differently, it is too much effort for some, but apparently, optimizing the videos to the viewers needs is exactly what gets you the engagement you need for your business.


Conclusion is, Vertical videos give better results and more viewers. Many Social websites and applications adopting the vertical videos and it is more likely for users to watch a vertical ad video than it is likely for them to watch it on a landscape mode. So Optimize your videos to vertical mode now to keep up with the viral change over the social media and to see how that works out for your business.

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