It’s rare for smartphones to leave our sides, and we probably swipe through dozens of videos a day, whether it’s on Facebook or Snapchat or YouTube. According to Forbes, we also hold our phones vertically 94% of the time — and a lot of that time is spent watching vertical videos. YouTube cemented this trend in August of last year when they finally began allowing vertical videos to play at full size on mobile screens, rather than putting them in horizontal boxes with black bars on the side. It made optimizing your video content for mobile not just a nice-to-have option, but a necessity for better visuals and engagement. Here are five reasons you should start putting mobile video first:
1. Mobile video views are surpassing desktop and TV views.
Ooyala’s video research from Q4 2017 shows that mobile video plays now make up more than half of all video plays — 60.3% of them to be exact. This number was only at 54.3% in Q4 2016. This is a huge portion of mobile viewership. And if people are holding their phones vertically most of the time, it can be assumed that a majority of these video plays are vertical, which brings us to our next point.
2. Vertical videos are easier to view than horizontal videos on mobile devices.
When you watch a horizontal video while holding your phone vertically, the video shrinks to fit into the frame. This makes it more difficult to view. Since our phones are naturally oriented vertically, it feels unnatural to flip them sideways just to film or watch a short video.
In an article from Mashable, Aaron Shapiro, the CEO of digital consulting company Huge, said, “Vertical video is completely aligned with user behavior. It seems obvious now, but when we all use our phone by default, we’re all shooting vertically because we’re too lazy to put our phone sideways.”
3. People and social media companies love vertical video.
Snapchat’s popularity is one of the main reasons vertical video has become accepted and loved. Besides the convenience of not having to turn our phones, viewers engage more with vertical videos. Snapchat’s head of content said that the company has “seen a nine times higher engagement rate with vertical rather than horizontal video.” Plus, the majority of the seven billion video clips viewed on Snapchat every day were filmed vertically.
Not to be outdone by Snapchat, Facebook quickly followed their lead, standardizing the 2:3 aspect ratio versus the 1:1 format. This allows video to take up more space on our screens, which Facebook says has increased viewers’ engagement rates. Facebook video viewers spend a longer time watching vertical videos than horizontal ones, and they are more likely to view them with sound.
People even pay more attention while they’re watching video on mobile. Ooyala showed that millennials are twice as likely to focus on videos on their mobile devices than what they watch on a TV.
Of course Facebook and Snapchat aren’t the only platforms optimizing for mobile. Instagram, Twitter, and now YouTube also support vertical video.
4. Your competitors are doing it.
Mobile video advertising has grown more than 35% in 2017, and Zenith predicts that 72% of all video ad views this year will be mobile, which is up from 61% in 2016. This shows that marketers are already investing heavily in mobile video advertising, and that mobile is where people are most likely to watch video ads. To stay competitive, you will have to optimize your video ads for mobile devices as well.
5. All the cool kids are doing it.
Once scorned by the internet, vertical video is now cool. Earlier this month, Netflix announced that they will be rolling out vertical TV and movie trailers in the mobile app. The trailers will fill a vertical screen entirely, though full episodes and movies will remain horizontal.
Celebrities are also getting into the vertical video game. Recently, R&B singer Tinashe released a vertical music video on Instagram for her single “Faded Love.” While Snapchat may have been on the cutting edge with vertical video, it’s now popular and viewed enough that big names and brands are trying it out.
Do you plan on producing vertical video this year? Tell us in the comments below!
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By D. Simone Kovacs, Storyhunter Editor