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Vertical video – ignore it at your peril

The way we view video is changing. Most of us will agree that our mobile is the most valuable device we own and with global usage trending even further upwards, the content we as website owners upload, has to produce the best experience for mobile users.

There has been some debate over the past few months that vertical video and widescreen format videos are now in direct competition with one another (an easy to remember definition of vertical video are those taken on mobile with the portrait setting).

With a reported 29% of total viewing now attributable to vertical video (as detailed by Mary Meeker, the legendary internet analyst and noted in her Internet Trends 2015 presentation) it can’t be ignored as an minor irritation that will go away. Previously, vertical video was perceived by the so-called experts as rudimentary but now those ‘experts’ are having to rethink as habits are changing and more people view content on mobile.

When people are in situations where they are using their mobile in its upright position, vertical video renders a much better experience than a standard video. People also get frustrated having to rotate their phone so the likelihood is that they will not continue to watch. And it’s not just the experience, according to Snapchat, an ad in a vertical video format has nine times more completed views that a horizontal view.

What is even more interesting is the fact that recent apps such as Periscope and Meerkat only work in portrait, based solely on the notion that people hold their mobiles in one hand. Other major companies such as the Daily Mail, National Geographic and Sky Sports also advertise to their thousands of exponents every day in a vertical format. Although landscape is on the agenda for Periscope, there is an expectation that users will stay loyal to the vertical format. As Periscope’s CEO stated in a BBC interview:

“This isn't television," he says. "It's a different medium and people generally hold their phones with one hand."

This will ruffle the feathers of those supporters who argue that our natural field of vision is horizontal - they argue that vertical video doesn’t replicate how we naturally see. However, there is also a strong argument to suggest that it’s only been the influence of film and media that has conditioned us to thinking that horizontal viewing (as for television or cinema) should be the norm. When we see YouTube’s format adapt to encompass vertical video, perhaps people will take the format more seriously.

When thinking about adding video to your site, consider how this going to look on mobile and what the best experience you can give your visitors. Think mobile first and be an early adopter of vertical video, it will set you ahead of the competition.



Sarah Pooley, Account Director



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