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Horizontal video used to be the default format people saw everywhere in social media video marketing. However, now you can’t browse social media or websites without running into vertical videos shot using the creator’s smartphone. Is vertical video a passing phase, or is it here to stay?
Dive into the transformation of video content and how vertical video changes how people create and view online media.
Vertical video is shot in portrait mode and viewed vertically. A vertical video will be taller than it’s wide, which is the typical smartphone shape when you hold it upright.
The most common aspect ratio of vertical video is 9:16, and the ideal dimensions are 1080×1920 pixels. Vertical video will completely fill a smartphone’s screen.
Vertical video has always been around, but it wasn’t popular in the past. This was primarily due to the size and shape of viewing screens, like computers and televisions, which work best with horizontal video.
When social media video content creators did start filming vertical videos with their smartphones, they had black bars on either side to be compatible with horizontal viewing. However, this format wasn’t appealing to watch as it shrunk the video, and the black space wasn’t as visually attractive as the full-screen experience that horizontal video offered.
YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram all primarily supported horizontal video when social media began to rise in popularity. However, as more consumers became creators and started creating video content for social media on their personal phones, the video format people preferred to view also shifted.
The rise of the smartphone had the most significant influence on vertical video. There are 6.64 billion smartphone users worldwide. Which equals nearly 84% of the world’s population. In addition, the World Advertising Research Center predicts that 72% of all internet users will access the internet through their smartphones.
What does this mean for vertical video?
Smartphones’ default video format is vertical video, as the most natural way to hold your phone is upright. You can find people holding their phones up to capture video everywhere they go, from restaurants to parks to parties. Social media must adapt to allow those users to share that footage by being compatible with vertical video.
Along with the rise in smartphones also came an increase in video viewing. In 2019, consumers spent an average of six hours and forty-eight minutes watching videos each week and 84 minutes daily.
Marketers adjusted to this rising trend in video viewing by creating video social media apps that supported video creation and were primarily dedicated to sharing those videos with others.
Image from OBERLO
These 10 apps saw the rise of vertical video as a unique marketing opportunity. As a result, they built the framework for today’s video marketing.
Snapchat entered the scene in 2011 under the name Picaboo. The app’s original use was to send images back and forth that would disappear after a set time. In 2012, the app took off. That was also the year it changed its name to Snapchat.
The transition to Snapchat was also when it fully embraced vertical video. The app called these short-term videos “stories.”
The app supported how users naturally held their phones to make shooting video convenient and straightforward. For example, creators only had to open their phones and start rolling instead of turning them sideways and using two hands to shoot horizontal video like with other apps.
The app’s growth slowed around 2018 when its rival TikTok arrived. It then took a slight dip in popularity. However, despite the hit the app received, it still manages to hold a considerable percentage of users among the younger generations and remains one of the top social media apps for vertical video.
Image from Snapchat
Vine came out soon after Snapchat in 2012. It allowed users to create short, six-second looping videos. Then, you could share those videos on your other social media accounts.
While Vine videos weren’t in the traditional horizontal format, they didn’t fully embrace vertical video either. They allowed users to shoot the video by holding their smartphones vertically. However, the videos were square on the app. It was a compromise that allowed the videos to appear well on both horizontal and vertical screens.
The app couldn’t compete with the other larger short-form video platforms and ended in 2016.
Mindie is a video-sharing app where you film a video to match an audio clip. This clip is often music, allowing creators to make short music videos. Because it was primarily for music, it was different from Vine and caught on with social media users who wanted another type of short-form video platform.
Mindie was a simple app. You could shoot video the same way you held your phone naturally. Then, you view the vertical video on your feed.
Shots Studios acquired Mindie in 2016.
Mark Zuckerberg saw the potential of video stories and wanted to get in on the action. He initially tried launching an app called Poke in 2014. It was a poor attempt at recreating Snapchat but didn’t gain the same momentum. Instead, it only fueled users’ interest in the original app.
That same year, he abandoned the idea and claimed it was a joke.
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Mark Zuckerberg didn’t let the poor performance of Poke dissuade him. He moved forward by allowing Instagram to support square video, the same format as Vine. However, he eventually saw the growth in vertical videos and adjusted Instagram’s capabilities to further support this format.
In 2016, Instagram adopted Instagram Stories. This feature worked similar to Snapchat, where creators shot a short vertical video, which disappeared after a set time. Later that year, the app also introduced live videos.
Image from Instagram
2018 was an exciting year for Instagram. They reached a global community of one billion users. It was also the year they introduced Instagram TV (IGTV).
IGTV was a long-form vertical viewing app. It was different from other apps like Snapchat because it allowed creators to upload videos longer than a few minutes. You could upload vertical videos for as long as an hour.
In 2021, Instagram adjusted its video capabilities and rolled IGTV into Instagram’s video feature instead of having a separate app.
The same year Instagram adopted vertical video – Facebook also joined in. Like Instagram, Facebook cropped videos into a square format. However, they saw the growing popularity of apps like Snapchat and switched to supporting vertical video for a fully immersive viewing experience.
Later they adopted Facebook stories that have a similar format to Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
YouTube’s video format is still primarily horizontal, which means vertical videos often still have those two black strips on either side. However, in 2018, they introduced a new way to share vertical videos that allows users to upload their vertical phone videos without the black strips on either side. Instead, the new feature cropped videos so that they filled the entire YouTube player.
This feature was met with mixed reviews as many viewers were disappointed in how much of the video was lost when the vertical video was cropped for horizontal viewing.
In 2021, YouTube announced YouTube Shorts. This video-sharing platform fully supports the aspect ratio of vertical video. However, it differs from its regular content as it’s designed for short-form video, similar to what you will find on Snapchat and TikTok.
Twitter currently doesn’t have a dedicated feed for vertical video. However, that isn’t surprising as most accountholders use the platform to share short-form written content, with a few images dispersed throughout the feed.
Even though videos aren’t the platform’s primary format, Twitter’s owners still understand the power of video and adjusted the app to support video in posts. It now supports both horizontal and vertical video in the Twitter feed.
In 2021, Twitter started to talk about introducing an exclusive video feed similar to TikTok. However, this feature hasn’t arrived, so users should stick with uploading videos to their regular feed for now.
While Snapchat is the start of the vertical video movement, TikTok is the reigning king of the vertical video format.
TikTok came on the scene in 2017, then became popular in 2018 after a merger of several apps. The most notable app was Musical.ly. This app was similar to Mindie, where users filmed themselves singing along to an audio clip. However, TikTok took that idea further with filters, effects, movie clips, and an enormous library of audio clips.
Vertical video creates more engaging social media posts, with TikTok being the most engaging social media app. The average time users spent on the app was over 10 minutes. Viewers can quickly lose track of time because their screen is filled with video, maximizing the space and minimizing distractions.
Image from BusinessofApps
Vertical video is on an upward trend and isn’t slowing down as long as the general public has smartphones with video capabilities. Through vertical video, you have a greater chance of engaging your audience, connecting with them, and sharing information. It’s more than a passing trend. It’s a vital part of content creation today.
Contact us to get started with your business’s vertical video marketing strategy.