It’s Hip To Be A Square Video

We’re currently seeing mobile video explode, especially on Facebook where over half of all video views are on mobile. Getting the viewers attention on mobile is a vastly different endeavor than attracting an audience on television, and it’s important now to adapt your videos for the users and the platforms. Scroll through your Facebook feed, and you will notice that there are a ton of square videos. There’s an important reason for that trend, and if you create video content, then you should be jumping on the bandwagon too.

When you look at how consumers hold their devices, it’s vertical. Snapchat has made vertical video mainstream, and that’s one reason we’ve seen a push to vertical video so much over the last few years. You hardly ever see anyone walking down the street holding their phone like a video game controller.

Unfortunately, SnapChat and Instagram Stories can be difficult for discover-ability, so brands still seem unsold on the format. It’s important to consider that regardless of how you’re viewing your device (vertical or horizontal), a square video takes up a substantial amount of on-screen real estate.

As someone is scrolling through their Facebook feed or even Instagram feed, you’ll see that square video takes up 78% more space in a person’s newsfeed than does landscape video. You could go a little farther like Facebook recommends and do a 4x5 video on both Facebook and Instagram, taking up a few more percentages of that space. Facebook ran a test and found that seven of the ten tests showed that vertical video ads drove an incremental increase in brand lift, including a three- to nine-point increase in ad recall.

You may be hesitant to join this vertical party because there’s a bit of romance for the film look, I know we’re guilty of this as well at LooseKeys.

When you see movies like The Hateful Eight which used 70 mm to a large extent, it makes for an impressive film going experience, but it sort of falls apart when you watch it at home or on your mobile device on the airplane. The classic film Ben-Hur is famous for its use of widescreen. The film used Panavision’s anamorphic movie camera lenses even though the smaller theaters at the time could only project 35mm. The aspect ratio ended up being extremely wide and the director William Wyler strongly disliked the widescreen format, commenting that “Nothing is out of the picture, and you can’t fill it… Your eye just wanders out of curiosity.” That was 1959, and we already saw a push back on widescreen.

You might think I’m crazy, but I don’t even care. ’Cause I can tell what’s going on. It’s hip to be square.

It’s funny to think now, and although we’re not an old studio, everyone on the team at some point had a 4x3 TV in their home. We are now seeing the return of the square video format, but Generation Z possibly never experienced a standard definition TV and maybe don’t know that square video isn’t a new thing. Instagram even got the idea for square photos from old square Polaroids. But what’s old is new again, and if you’re an old school video creator, you should be right at home in this square world.

If you’re planning to work with a studio like LooseKeys, we are always thinking about how to deliver the best experience for the end-user. Shooting video for vertical and mobile from the start, instead of just modifying existing horizontal creative, may help. When creating an animation, it is effortless and no trouble to make a few adjustments to see what a square video might look like and how it will perform.

If you are looking at the cost of creating a video with the plan to distribute on the internet then really square video is the best option. Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn the 1:1 aspect ratio will work and perform well across the platform. 67% of people are more likely to watch the full length of a square-oriented video than they are to view a horizontal one. It’s merely the fact that it’s larger and more prominent.

The service, Buffer ran a test where they compared both square video and landscape video. There’s a great breakdown of Buffer’s findings, and it even dives into mobile versus desktop views. But the tl:dr from it was that; both square video and letterbox video (1:1 format) outperformed landscape video when it came to average engagements, views, and completion rate (%) — particularly on mobile devices.

As we move forward, there is no denying that it’s hip to be square.