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  • Writer's pictureDavid Brake

The World Is Not Landscape. Vertical Video Is On The Rise.

A lot has changed since 2000. Take the lessons learned from the dot-com boom and bust. We no longer gleefully accept the latest fad with no strings attached. We still have the hype trains surrounding the 'next big thing' (see: live streaming), but the hype is more measured. It takes time for new habits to become established and accepted in the public consciousness. And that leads us to vertical video. It's time for brands to prepare, and embrace this 'evil'.

It was 2012 when Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS) was diagnosed. This original video meme took aim at the increasing number of users whipping out their phones with little regard for the end product. The idea of simply capturing the moment. The fools. As the original video explained, TVs, movies, computer screens, and our own eyes are all horizontal. That being said, that never stopped Remrandt, did it? 6.7m views later though, this horizontal video had clearly hit a chord. The vertical format was seen as amateurish, with the content creator just 'doing it wrong'. Yet as we reach the end of 2015, the status quo could be ready for change.

It is now accepted (or at least it should be)  that we should develop services 'mobile first'.  The global number of smartphones will increase to 2.8 billion by 2017 (from 237 million in 2008). And this democratisation of the means of production is, quite literally, changing the way people see video. Professional producers may feel the vertical format is a cardinal sin but for the average user it’s fine.

Mary Meeker's annual report in Internet Trends for 2015 highlights how 29% of US viewing time - 2.8 hours per day - occurs on vertical screens. This is up from 5% just five years ago. It must be said, that this conclusion assumes that all viewing on phones and tablets is done vertically. Yet it is increasingly true that vertical video has come to feel natural. ScientiaMobile, which tracks more than 1 billion Internet browsing sessions each month, found that 94% of smartphone website visits begin in portrait mode

The first platform to capitalise on this is Snapchat. Whether pioneer or band-wagoner, Snapchat are the kings of video on mobile. As popular vlogger Casey Neistat points out, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram still haven’t fully solved the problem of mobile video. Snapchat has the lead and they know that everyone knows it. The platform's future depends on its extending and exploiting this.

Snapchat's new 3V (vertical video views) advertising plan forces ads to be mobile only in a full-screen format. This is founded on their claim that more people watch video on Snapchat than on any other mobile platform. How much will it earn? How do these numbers compare? There's little to benchmark against, but numbers that have been release suggest they're on to something. With more than 100 million users and 2 billion video views daily, Snapchat is attempting to change the game.

3V is great for Snapchat  and is going to be increasingly useful on other platforms. Facebook will soon allow for vertical videos to display in full screen mode. YouTube have said they will stick with horizontal formatting (for now), but as the New York Times points out, an increase of 50% for tall videos in 2015 cannot be ignored.

So what next? Is it time to jump ship? Absolutely not. This is a trend, not a revolution. No-one would think of watching ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ vertically just yet. There is no new standard, no suggestion that vertical will replace horizontal as the ‘right’ thing to do. But vertical has clearly become a real option for content production. The same as 360 degree video. The same as 3-D video. The same as square video. For now, vertical video is on the rise. There is a market out there and vertical content can offer something fresh and different.

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