Don’t tell me what to do in my mobile world

Stop Complaining About Vertical Video

I get it. I really do. I used to be one of you that complained about vertical video.

Here’s the thing, guys. Where do you consume most video on social networks? My mom would probably say on Facebook, while on her computer, once a week while she “likes” everything that she has missed since the last time she got on.

You’re not my mom, are you?

Why Vertical Pisses People Off

Like I said, I used to be one of you. I would get so upset when I saw them too. I even reposted that video making fun of people with “Vertical Video Syndrome” and smiled to myself with my snarky attitude.

It made sense. People are used to watching video on a TV and computer screen. For decades we have become accustomed to viewing video in horizontal/landscape format. It gave us an image that mimicked real-life with the use or semi-peripheral vision to bring us into the “moment.”

This is still the best format for film and most of video, mind you. It will probably continue to be the standard as Virtual Reality (VR) becomes more and more prevalent.

BUT

Having said all of that, we don’t have to accept that it is the exclusive format in which all video must be produced or consumed.

Video Consumption

Over the past few years, things have changed. We don’t just watch video while sitting in the movie theater, in front of our TV or at our desk behind the computer.

Since the late 2000s, something crazy has been happening. You may not have caught it, but mobile devices are kind of a big deal now. In fact, online video consumption is moving dramatically to the new-ish medium.

Here are some numbers about online video consumption, because that’s what Gen-Xers need in order to listen to a Millennial when talking about this kind of thing:

  • 2012 — 22.9% viewed on a mobile device
  • 2014 — 40.1% viewed on a mobile device
  • 2016 projection — 52.7% viewed on a mobile device
  • 2017 projection — 58.1% viewed on a mobile device

These numbers are from Zenith Optimedia, so I didn’t just make them up.

There is an obvious trend over the last few years that video is being consumed more and more on mobile devices. As soon as this year, 2016, more than half of online video will be consumed on a mobile device.

That’s insane!

This begs the question:

“Why is horizontal video still considered the norm for online video content?”

Aaaaand here comes the point of all of this.

It shouldn’t be!

I am not proposing that horizontal video is outdated or on the demise. Not at all. I am simply arguing that there is now a very large (and growing) market/demand for vertical video. As dumb and ridiculous as it may sound, there is no reason why you should need to rotate a device in order to optimize your viewing experience. The exact same argument made years ago against vertical video is now the argument for it.

If we are consuming more video on a vertical screen than horizontal, why are we producing that content for the latter?

Convenient Examples to Back Me Up

Here, I’m going to use 2 examples that pad my ego and make me look like I’m onto something here: Snapchat and Slinger.

Snapchat

In 2015, Snapchat went all in on bringing advertisers into their platform. This started with Discover in Q1. Snapchat also released their findings after dabbling with advertising within their app. This resulted in what they call “3V” or Vertical Video Views.

Here, I’ll let them explain it for themselves.

Still having a “get off my lawn” moment? Consider the fact that as of January 2016, Snapchat sees more that 7 billion daily video views. And guess what? They are all vertical videos. And nobody complains. In fact, if someone records horizontally, everyone loses their minds.

Clearly, there is great value in creating video content with consideration of the medium with which it will be consumed, i.e. vertical video for a vertically-integrated mobile device.

Slinger

With the potential to become a giant reservoir of vertical video content, Slinger “shot” onto the scene as a champion of this movement as a “for the creative, by the creative” solution.

Yes, that was a pun.

ChrisCarm, a talented and successful Snapchatter, developed Slinger with his team after realizing that a viable location for storing his Snapchat Stories did not yet exist. Yes, there’s always YouTube, but again, it still does not have a viable vertical video feature and the experience is just not the same.

With some basic features, Slinger has become the darling of the predominate Snapchat creative community. Most of the “top” Snapchatters have already started uploading older stories and some original content for people to discover and consume in a completely mobile and vertical-friendly environment.

The Vertical Experience

As I mentioned earlier, the traditional experience with video in a horizontal format remains a fantastic way to communicate a story. There is no denying that. Watching a video that emulates how you see the world makes perfect and absolute sense… if the device used to view it is also horizontal.

Vertical video, on the other hand, offers an equally powerful experience. For better or for worse, our lives are experienced through their screens. They are the medium of choice to communicate and consume content on the go. They are becoming part of how we live day to day.

I have come to realize that consuming vertical video on my phone brings me into the scene much more vividly. In a vertical world, watching a video on Slinger or my favorite creator on Snapchat, holding my phone vertically pulls me into the story in a way that I feel part of it. I feel like a participant in whatever they are doing.

I like to think of the difference in video format in terms of the subject or story they capture and convey.

Horizontal format is great for capturing a wide open scene and will give you great context of an overarching story. For that purpose, we often refer to it as a “landscape” orientation.

In a vertical format, you are focusing on a person or specific element within a story or scene, typically a person. For that purpose, we often refer to it as a “portrait” orientation.

The beauty of mobile vertical video is that our perspective becomes more of a first-person POV focused on a specific element or person. Perhaps there is some psychology involved, but I am far too under-qualified to comment on that. I can only speak from personal observation and, obviously, the data that demonstrates we are in fact shifting to a vertical video world.

Fight it all you want, you are quickly becoming the minority.