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6 September 2017

The Case for Vertical

Written by: Tristan Sanders, Head of Performance at Edelman

Consumer Trends & Insight, Innovation, Technology

That’s the set. With YouTube’s new update offering a much-improved native, full screen vertical video experience, all of the major syndicators of video now offer this as standard. For UGC-ers, this will mean ever more opportunities to upload blurry lols straight from your device. For users, it means an end to those irritating bars at the side of the content. But what about the content creators we work with every day?

Vertical has been available for some time now on Facebook, has been a key element of Instagram’s rise and rise with Stories and it would be remiss not to acknowledge the contribution of original truly mobile-first social network Snapchat in driving the initial trend towards the 2:3 ratio. And the move towards vertical isn’t exactly something new. Of the major social networks, YouTube has the largest skew towards desktop consumption. Nevertheless, mobile consumption rate >50% was achieved back in 2015. As such, it’s hardly revelatory to find out that most content is consumed on a mobile: mobiles are held in the vertical position 95%, according to a report from MOVR.

Nevertheless, branded content is generally made in old skool horizontal letterbox 16:9. Indeed, I have yet to work on a single campaign where the video content was served vertically. The reason seems fairly obvious: that the content is developed for TV/Cinema first and foremost and then syndicated digitally almost as an afterthought. But given that the impressions/views achievable on Social are potentially higher, the case for making bespoke vertical content, if previously at a tipping point, has now been nudged over the hurdle by YouTube’s developments.

Need a further case? Vertical could well prove more cost effective. Snapchat claims that its vertical formats see a 9x greater engagement rate than its non-vertical formats. Not so surprising. But it also claims their ads see 2x higher visual attention vs. comparable platform. Better engagement means better Quality Scores (or whatever a respective platform calls them), better reach and lower CPEs.

It’s time to make the switch.

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