Making a Case for Vertical Video – by Chris Zaccaro

According to a recent report released by the Pew Research Center “Americans of all ages are increasingly likely to say they mostly go online using their smartphone.” Since 2013, the number of U.S. adults that access the internet primarily on their smartphones has doubled to 37%. Which, if you do the quick math, means that 1 in 3 people are bound to reach the internet via their phones rather than desktops, laptops or tablets. If that growth stays consistent—and if anything, it is bound to accelerate—by 2025 over half of American adults will be primarily using their phones when surfing the web or social platforms.

Not only that—and this may make you cringe—Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts has stated that “people around the world will spend an average of 800 hours using the mobile internet this year…equivalent to 33 days without sleep or pause.” Just think of all of the episodes of The Office you could have watched in that time!

“Oh, so that’s what you were doing…”

What does this mean for communication professionals? That it’s time to start implementing vertical video into your digital and social strategies.

Now this is not to say you should stop framing your shots horizontally altogether. Many people do—and will likely continue to—access the internet through devices other than their phone. Also, you may be producing your video to be shown in non-internet based environments, such as television or within presentations. And therein lies the lesson.

How do I frame this?
So, what’s the better way to go? Vertical? Horizontal? Let your venue be your guide.

Don’t just take my word for it (though I would like you to), look at the numbers…and Sam Smith!

According to scientiamobile’s MOVR Mobile Overview Report, 94% of smartphone users hold their phones vertically and as we’ve pointed out a number of times, the viewership of stories on social media—which are displayed vertically—has grown massively over the past few years. Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today pointed out earlier this year that Facebook now has more than a billion daily story users across their Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.

YouTube, the second-most widely used social media platform in the U.S., recognized its need to adapt last year and added vertical video support to its web app. Haven’t noticed that yet? Look no farther than Sam Smith.

Here’s his vertical music video for Dancing With A Stranger

And here’s his horizontal version…

That’s right, two versions!

Here are some we can take from the Sam Smith two-music video versions lesson:

1.) This song is so damn catchy. Add it to your playlist.

2.) You’ll notice that the vertical view and the horizontal view are two different versions of the music video—with different framing, shots, graphics, etc. That’s because not every shot that works in horizontal format works in vertical format, and vice versa. When possible, customize your creative—whether it be graphic design or video—so it properly fits within the environment it’s displayed in. Much like you should do with images you post on Facebook vs. Twitter. Ever notice that a picture you posted on Facebook gets cut off in Twitter? They display differently!

3.) Along the same lines as #2, keep the vertical vs. horizontal video dimensions in mind when you begin storyboarding and framing your shots. That way your life is easier when post-production comes around.

4.) Unlike Baby Shark, Sam Smith is an artist that can be appreciated by all ages—but his fan base is really the younger crowd between the ages of 18-24 and, according to Pew, 94% of that age bracket uses YouTube. As such, Smith is bearing witness to the first lesson of Marketing 101: Know your audience. He knows his fan base uses YouTube to watch his videos, and as we’ve discussed here, 1 in 3 adults primarily use their cell phone for internet use and 94% of them hold it vertically. It just makes sense for him and other artists to begin providing the vertical video option so they can capture a wider set of their audience.

And perhaps it’s time for you to begin providing it as well.

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