Think Vertical! Mobile Video Goes Native


There’s a hilarious Youtube video from comedic puppet troupe Glove and Boots about the perils of vertical mobile video. This satirical PSA is from 2012, and while humorous, it’s starting to show its age.  Vertical video is going legit, and younger users are leading the way in consumption.

While there’s a 100+ year tradition of watching moving pictures on a horizontal screen, perhaps there’s a good argument for video to be turned on its end. The dominant mode for using a mobile handset is in the portrait orientation – why shouldn’t content be made this way too? Most video viewed on a smartphone was originally made for a different screen, but increasingly ads and other content are being created “mobile native”, or vertical.

Snapchat has pioneered the vertical format over the last 12 months. It has introduced “3V” advertising (“vertical/video/views”). They claim vertical ad units have 9x the completion rate of horizontal video. And Snapchat’s Discover content partners are making the best native mobile content (IMHO) in the market today. What Buzzfeed, Food Network, CNN and the others understand is that is a brand-new media channel, and they are dedicating the resources to create unique content. It will be interesting to see if other major video platforms e.g. Youtube start to showcase professionally-produced vertical content.

Vertical music clips from Warner Bros Records

Despite being a fast-growing segment of video consumption, not every creator has the budget for mobile-specific content. TVs, tablets and laptops still dominate viewing habits, and many may find the investment in a dedicated vertical workflow hard to justify today. Everything from the camera setup, storytelling and editing techniques needs to be rethought from a vertical perspective. Many media organizations are experimenting with the format, and it’s proving popular.

There may come a time when vertical is the standard for mobile video, particularly for the mobile-first generation (and mobile-first emerging markets). So don’t listen to those furry critters from Glove and Boots. Say “Yes” to vertical video.