Frank Sinton
May 2, 2016 · 4 min read

The Shape of Things to Come — Vertical Video and the New Ad Units

By Frank Sinton, CEO at Beachfront Media

Vertical video is hitting the digital-media business fast and hard, spurred by Snapchat’s booming growth and reliance on a mobile-friendly aspect ratio that’s a big break from the way people watched entertainment on traditional platforms and many pioneering digital outlets.

The shift has big implications for the advertising side, too, which is why Beachfront is offering vertical video options for digital publishers, syndicators, brands and others. Vertical video looks like it’s here to stay, and our clients need to be able to use it to thrive in a mobile-first world of video entertainment.

To some, the shape of your video seems like a small thing, a detail that only affects how you hold your phone. Want to watch YouTube videos in all their glory? Just rotate the phone and hit play. Google has made a lot of money from that approach over the past decade, even as mobile viewers now comprise more than half its video watching.

But aspect ratio ends up being surprisingly important, especially with the rocket-fast rise of Snapchat, which decided to place buttons for its video-creation tools in a way that naturally encouraged mobile users to shoot and edit vertical video. Some 100 million users later, and 10 billion daily video views, the approach seems to have worked out.

Now other sites are doing the same, bowing to the way hundreds of millions of people use their cellphones every day, for basics like reading email or sending a text message or even creating a fast-disappearing video message for Snapchat followers. Watching vertical video is just another example of the growing influence of mobile compared to old-school options such as linear TV or a desktop computer screen.

Advertising that goes with that video (and pays for it) is now trying to catch up, as I talk about in this piece about the issue that recently ran in AdExchanger. Run a horizontal-aspect ad alongside vertical video on a mobile phone and it’s virtually unwatchable.

Either the horizontal ad is truncated, or it’s shrunk to such a small size that virtually no one can make out what’s happening on the screen, particularly on a small, slender mobile screen. The result gives a painful new meaning to the issue of ad viewability, and not in a positive way. But make that ad in way that’s optimized for vertical viewing, says Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, and it’s nine times more likely to get watched.

That’s why Beachfront Media has added support for vertical video in our Reach and Video SSP products. Beachfront SSP is our programmatic video advertising platform, a video supply-side platform that makes it easy for publishers and app developers to generate the highest possible rates for advertising across many sources, including our own Beachfront Marketplace.

We designed the Beachfront SSP to be as plug-and-play simple, smart and fast as possible. Now, with the addition of Vertical Video support, we’re helping publishers succeed with the newest shape of video, so they can display high-impact mobile ad units that engage audiences, attract advertisers and drive revenue.

We’ve also enabled vertical video on Beachfront Reach, which is a turnkey solution for publishers who don’t create their own original video content but know how powerful it can be for audience engagement.

Beachfront Reach also provides a distribution platform for companies that want to extend to other sites the audiences for their own videos. Reach brings syndicated video content from brands big and small to audiences hungering for it, especially on mobile. Providing vertical video options for content and advertising here makes sure that publishers, syndicators and advertisers are all on the right side of the future of entertainment consumption and ad ecosystems.

This isn’t all that Beachfront has added just in the past few weeks to accommodate the many changes transforming the digital media landscape. For instance, Reach is now part of the official Google documentation for its Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative. The Washington Post (owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) just announced it would serve vertical video ads — at 300 by 600 pixels — right into their AMP articles. Beachfront is, as the AMP documentation notes, now approved as an extension that supports those vertical ads.

For Beachfront, these are more examples of how we’ve built our company from a mobile-first, video-first perspective. It’s where audiences are going, and it’s where publishers and brands need to go too. We’re there to help them do it, with fast, fluid and easy-to-use tools that can help create success for everyone and ensure a powerful new medium can grow and thrive to the benefit of everyone.


Frank Sinton is the CEO of Beachfront Media, a programmatic video ad platform that helps publishers distribute and monetize video across screens. Twitter: @beachfrontmedia @fsinton

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