Vertical Video: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

by Tim James

Ever since cellphones gained video recording capability, people have insisted on shooting video vertically. Despite all the harassment and corrections received from peers when sharing a vertical video – “Hold the phone sideways!” – Some things never change. Those black bars that bookend the video when taken vertically certainly aren’t the most attractive. They also limit the space in which the video can be viewed.  Despite all this, a bunch of video platforms have finally given up encouraging people to abstain from taking videos vertically and have altered their platforms to accommodate them.

According to an article in Entrepreneur, Snapchat and YouTube have altered their platforms and have given their video players vertical video support. This means that those annoying black bars will no longer be visible when a vertically filmed video is uploaded. The newer live-streaming video services – Periscope and Meerkat – have always promoted a vertical video format. The thought process behind this is that most consumers peruse content holding their phone in a natural way (vertically) and horizontal video forces them to rotate the phone – an unnatural action with a smartphone.

In fact, Snapchat asks its marketers to reshoot their videos in a vertical manner. While this can be a costly suggestion, according to Snapchat, “vertical video ads are nine times more likely to be viewed to completion than their horizontal counterparts.”

It’s all about options, folks. Some consumers like watching videos horizontally. In fact, most video marketers up till now would cringe every time they saw a video with the black bars on the side, indicating that it was taken vertically. Now, however, these video hosting platforms and apps are optimizing their properties to emphasize vertical videos, so as to accommodate the way in which consumers actually use their devices. This is instead of forcing them to make (or watch) videos in an unnatural position. The fact that vertical videos have higher completion rates is certainly logical for these very reasons.

The most important things to consider when choosing platforms for your video marketing are: a) is the platform optimized for a mobile web experience, and b) is your video attractive and easy for a consumer to view. Forcing consumers to watch videos through an app could make them hesitate to watch – especially if they aren’t already a user of the app.

It’s also important to include distinct calls-to-action that consumers can take within the video player itself. It’s great if they watch your whole video. But, if they cannot be lead further down the buying funnel, what’s the point? You cannot expect a consumer to watch your video and then have to hunt you down because, well, they won’t.

It seems that we can lay to rest the taboo of vertical video now that these platforms embrace it. Does this mean horizontal video will all of a sudden be taboo? Who knows – and it really doesn’t matter anymore. Make compelling videos and host them in a way you can control where they go next, rather than risk the video player suggesting “relevant” videos which just so happen to be from your competition. In this way you’ll win in your video marketing — whether you take the video vertically or horizontally.

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