Vertical Video Advertising: When and Why?

Vertical Video Advertising: When and Why?

Jul 1, 2019 • 4 min

With the rise of smartphones being primarily used in vertical orientation, it is time to reconsider how videos should be formatted, specifically, in advertising.

Why vertical video for advertising?

Considering just how widely used smartphones are, advertisers are compelled to rethink the way they format ads. 90% of view time on mobile phones is done holding the phone vertically, not horizontally, according to IAB, a guide to digital video advertising. Since the most efficient and secure way of reaching the new generation is via their phones, we must cater to their convenience and adapt the ads to how viewers prefer holding their devices.

It’s no secret that the new generation is addicted to their phones and the stats for daily smartphone usage are insane. From social media scrolling, to online shopping, to internet browsing, to movie and video streaming, phones are a black hole of entertainment and distraction. According to research studies by Nielson and the Pew Research Center, a person spends an average of 4 hours on their smartphones a day. That’s a quarter of your time awake! Half of that time, if not more, is spent on various social media platforms.

And the usage is rising: More and more people are exclusively using their phones and the average time spent on them continually increases. A study Facebook made between 2014 and 2016 underscores a notable quarterly increase in mobile-only users. Within 2 years, they gained 553 million mobile-only monthly active users —users who access Facebook solely through the mobile app—, totaling at 891 million mobile-only users.

The Pros and Cons to choosing Vertical over Horizontal

Users, whether scrolling through Instagram, swiping through Snapchats, or intermittently waiting between games on an app, won’t purposefully rotate their phones horizontally just to view an ad. They will, however, be looking at content if it flows nicely into their feeds. A portrait video ad blends much more seamlessly than a landscape one does, insuring a higher chance of the ad being viewed.

Vertical video is up and coming. People take, edit, send, and interact with portrait videos daily through Snapchat and Instagram stories, as well as through Facetime. These apps are normalizing vertical video, and advertisers have to keep up with this evolution.

While vertical video is becoming more popular, it is still a rare concept in actual videography. As such, marketers have a chance to stand out with content with no extra cost. Changing the orientation of the camera during production is not only a cost effective and simple way of making an ad more captivating, but also increases the likelihood of the ad actually being watched.

More than just guaranteeing that the ad will be seen, the vertical aspect of the video takes up the entire screen, whereas a horizontal video only takes up 25% of the phone’s real estate. This benefit allows the ad to be an immersive experience and further guarantees that the audience won’t be preoccupied with something else on the screen.

Success Stories of Vertical Video Ads

Many brands and advertisers have already caught on to the vertical video trend and all have witnessed outstanding results.

National Geographic was among the first to embrace vertical videos in social media by creating short documentaries that they adapt for mobile screens in portrait mode and post as Instagram stories. With 111 million followers, National Geographic generated a whopping 3 million views for their first vertical documentary, the final episode of “One Strange Rock”. The audience’s feedback confirmed the video’s success. The vertical format allows for an immersive experience, making viewers feel as though they are filming through their phone’s camera in real time.

Celebrities and social media influencers are also catching on to this trend: Selena Gomez produced the very first vertical music video for her hit song “Bad Liar” for the music streaming app Spotify. More artists in the music industry are beginning to make two versions of their music videos —horizontal and vertical.

Some companies, like Spotify and Mercedez-Benz, are striving to make their brand and mobile app more intriguing through vertical videos. According to an article on Econsultancy, “For Spotify, the aim has been to build interest in its platform in a more visual capacity, as well as to drive downloads of its mobile app”. Mercedez-Benz has funded short films for IGTV (Instagram’s Video Streaming App) and produced Instagram Ads in vertical video format to promote its cars. They used different angles and editing techniques to make the vertical ad more thrilling and creative. The resulting stats for these ads were impressive, reaching more than 2.6 million viewers and achieving an increase of nine points in ad recall.

The trend of vertical video ads is on the rise and, as more and more companies are hopping on, knowledge on producing creative vertical videos is imperative.

Best Practices for Vertical Video Advertising

Vertical videos may seem like horizontal videos with the camera rotated 90 degrees, but some cinematographic rules are different: Just like how horizontal videos are ideal for landscapes, vertical ones are great for portraits and footage of single individuals. Content that is vertical in shape, such as buildings, trees, and people, are optimal to be framed in vertical videos.

Movement is generally always horizontal. Unfortunately, gravity inhibits humans and animals from flying vertically upwards. As such, movement is harder to follow from a vertical camera’s point of view and rapid pans can be confusing and headache-inducing to the audience, considering their reduced field of view. What does work well in a vertical format are low and tall angles. Strong vertical features in the shot will strengthen the composition and will make more sense for the portrait mode of the video.

There are many subtle practices that go into vertical video advertising, but the key rule is to not crop from an already filmed and edited landscape video. A compelling vertical video has to be planned around its new, intriguing format.


“Five examples of brands using vertical video”

“Facebook passes 1.65 billion monthly active users, 54% access the service only on mobile.”

“Vertical Video Advertising: Best Practices”

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