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Watching wherever we are…vertically or horizontally?

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The latest round of flagship mobile phones, Google’s Pixel and the iPhone 7, are extremely impressive. They are getting better and better at delivering a hugely improved user experience with updated graphics, screens and processing power. Couple this with ever increasing data plans and you’ve got yourself a recipe for the perfect device for video viewing, anywhere, anytime.

The rise in the use of mobile as a tool to watch video content is astonishing. Whether you are browsing YouTube for the latest movie trailers, catching up on last night’s NBA and NHL highlights (to see how your bets lost) or sessioning Game of Thrones in time for the premiere of Season 7, there is now a greater chance than ever you will be doing it from your phone.

Moreover, half of YouTube’s traffic is now delivered via mobile and more than 35% of people consume long form content on their phone. Personally you can count me out of that last statistic, I’d rather have the big screen experience for my long-form videos but each to their own one supposes. My personal preferences aside, it’s hard to argue that mobile video viewing as a trend looks set to rise until, even I relent and give in.

What makes this steep incline all the more interesting is that mobile phones are inherently not designed to be used horizontally. I keep my phone more or less permanently locked in portrait mode, which does prove somewhat of an annoying thing to fiddle with due to the large majority of video content being horizontal. However, my prayers could soon be answered, with media companies, advertisers, publications and video content platforms leading the way.

TL;DR – More vertical video please for the growing mobile generation

Their answers come in the form of the introduction and uptake of vertical video. Snapchat have lead the way for vertical video to become a more dominant force, and with their evolution into an ad-funded platform, advertisers themselves have had to follow suit…or face missing out on all those valuable/impressionable teenage eyeballs. And this vertical shift all makes a great deal of sense, with Snapchat reporting to have nine times more completed views of the format than of horizontal video ads.

As mentioned though, this shift goes far beyond the realms of just Snapchat. Instagram and Facebook launched vertical video ads at the backend of last year and are becoming all the more popular, with mobile video display networks such as Yume bringing it in to their portfolio this year. Going forward you will likely be seeing these sort of formats appearing with greater frequency on media plans and recommendations to creative agencies and clients alike should definitely factor this shift in.

To finish on a few interesting bits of vertical video related news. BBC News began an experiment with vertical video news pieces on their app towards the end of last year and are rolling it out in greater numbers this year. Whilst they haven’t released any specific viewing numbers, reports are that they have been well received.

And for all those American sports fans out there, in less than two weeks is the grand-daddy of them all, the Superbowl. If, like me, you plan on cooking up a big bowl o’ nachos and staying up to the early hours to see who wins, you will likely be both aware of the hype around Superbowl half-time ads, and be second-screening whilst you watch. Last year, Jeep’s Super Bowl commercial was the first Super Bowl ad to be published in a portrait format. Will 2017 be the year that we see vertical ads on second screens go hand-in-hand with their Superbowl big-budget big-screen TV counterparts? Naturally these ads are US only at the moment, but how long will it be before this transfers to the UK market at scale.

TL;DR – More vertical video please for the growing mobile generation

Matt Hardy – Digital Campaign Manager

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