As Bruce Daisley, VP Europe of Twitter, touched upon at Digital Media Strategies, the proliferation of cameras has meant the world is now shifting from a horizontal to a vertical world. Speaking at DMS16 he said, “The mobile web has overtaken the desktop web. Cameras are now vertical devices and portrait video content is becoming more common.”

According to Mary Meeker, vertical video viewing time is now almost a third of video viewing time (29 percent) in the US compared with 5 percent in 2010. 

“Vertical videos simply look and work better than those shot “correctly.” YouTube reports a 50 percent increase in vertical uploads in 2015 while Facebook now allows for full screen playback for vertical videos.”


Consequently, many publishers have actively begun experimenting with the format. 





It may seem trivial, but in fact, this social media inspired format may just be the future of video (regardless of criticism by professional videographers), with Snapchat delivering more than 7 billion video clips each day, most of which are in vertical orientation. 

Snapchat told The Daily Mail:

 “…vertical video ads have up to 9 times more completed views than horizontal video ads.”

As mobile consumption grows, building a mobile-first culture is high up on many publishers to do list, with video playing a huge part in this strategy. The Ericsson Mobility Report highlights how 50 percent of mobile data traffic currently comes from video.

Reuters predicts video will grow 14 times within five years and account for 70 percent of mobile network traffic. Reuters additionally reported that 54 percent (of 130 leading editors, CEOs and digital leaders) said deepening online engagement was a top priority, correlating directly to the use of video.  

But the vertical format is not just for mobile. As Digiday reports “the Interactive Advertising Bureau has pushed the half-page vertical ad on desktop sites — it’s one of the “rising stars” formats.”

Jon Steinberg, chief executive of The Daily Mail’s North American operations previously said:

“We’re working to get to 100 percent of our videos vertical, we find the engagement much higher. Users are more satisfied, and there’s a higher completion rate on them.”

Ad companies are also seeing the investment in vertical video. Native video ad platform Teads recently announced a new vertical video ad format, ‘inRead Vertical’ with the objective of embracing user behaviour and making publishers content increasingly visible on mobile.  

“With the rise of apps […] users are increasingly comfortable seeing video in portrait, especially when it fits better within the device on which they’re watching”, says Todd Tran, Global MD, Teads.

The WaPo strategy

The Washington Post is a prime example of a publisher investing in a diverse video strategy, putting video at the epicentre of its newsroom with the recent relocation having four live-shot locations.

One of The Washington Post’s vertical videos on Facebook:


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Posted by Washington Post on Monday, 29 February 2016

The Washington Post launched a new ‘sticky video player’ in December, following the user as they move through an article. The benefit for publishers includes boosting viewability rates and therefore, ad revenue as a result of longer viewing.

Hearst is also experimenting with vertical video on their own sites: 

“On desktop, Hearst’s half-page vertical ads have become a more powerful format than the old-fashioned skyscraper slots that used to dominate.” (Digiday)

It is apparent publishers are devoting time and money to video, but vertical video still holds a mixed consensus.

David Hicks, Mobile Product Consultant who works with publishers across London on digital projects, says:     

“With the smartphone as the device of choice to consume content on, and social media demanding more engaging stories every minute, creating quality video in short and medium form – whether vertical or horizontal – should be the priority in any publisher’s digital strategy”

The disadvantages to publishers who resist the vertical change risk losing out to higher engagement rates and to a millennial audience.

As Instagram, Twitter ‘Moments’, Snapchat and other social platforms offer vertical video, it is time for publishers to take it seriously.