What I’m going to say in this blog could be considered blasphemy. I expect an angry mob to form outside this office window any moment now but I must speak the truth.

There’s nothing wrong with vertically-filmed videos.

There I said it. Did you have a visceral reaction? Read on and hopefully, I can convince you too.

The Ubiquity of Snapchat and Instagram

Snapchat was everywhere. Now everyone is doin’ it for the ‘Gram. Nobody uses Facebook Stories. People and brands alike are consistently filming in portrait mode as these services become more popular.

And why wouldn’t they? Have you ever seen a video shot in landscape mode on Snapchat or Instagram Stories? It looks ridiculous – as evidenced above.

These brands are forcing adoption of vertical videos on people and I couldn’t be more ok with it. This is due to the popularity of mobile devices – the main mode of publishing content to these platforms. In fact, shortly after we published this post, Instagram rolled out IGTV, further proving that vertical videos are becoming the norm on these social platforms.

Mobile Makes it OK

Face it. People no longer consume media the same way they did even five years ago. Mobile now accounts for nearly 70% of digital media time. Gone are the days of viewing video on horizontal desktop screens. Further, 94% of mobile phone users hold their phone vertically. That’s really no surprise. It’s how they were designed.

It’s time to face facts, grandpa (or grandma) – viewing vertical video in fullscreen on a mobile device is just glorious.

The dreaded black bars were one of the main complaints about vertical video but most platforms now account for the format. In fact, the black bars are so much worse when viewing horizontal video holding your phone in its most natural position.

Either that or they force the user to rotate their phone. This is a big mistake if you’re trying to target the ever-elusive millennial market, especially as more and more phones follow the popular trend of full front screens with little to no bevel.

Youth Dictate Trends

Think about the great ads of the late 1960s and early 1970s. “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” – often considered one of the greatest ads ever – was nothing more than a transparent attempt to leverage the buying power of the already waning hippie movement.

How many commercials have you seen recently attempt – and fail – at capturing the meme market?

The vast majority millennials say they don’t rotate their phone when viewing video and advertisers are starting to take notice.

Vertical Ads are a Thing – And They Work

Snapchat was one of the first to introduce vertical ads – meant to be consumed on smartphones – and they received nine times more engagement than horizontal ads.

These ads are becoming more standard in other publications as well.

It makes sense. Vertical ads take up more valuable real estate for smartphone users, where we know people are spending the majority of their time.

It’s Proven They’re More Effective

I know I’ve buried the lead here, but there is now hard proof that vertical videos are more effective than both square and landscape videos, at least when it comes to social advertising.

In 2017, Buffer conducted a study in partnership with Animoto to determine the effectiveness of videos in landscape mode vs. the square format. What they found was that, “square video (1:1) results in 30-35 percent more video views and an 80-100 percent increase in engagement compared to landscape video (16:9)…”

You see, square video occupies 78% more real estate in Facebook and Insta feeds when being viewed on a mobile device. And mobile makes up 65% of total digital usage, which is up from 62% in Q1 2018.

So they teamed up with Animoto once again for a final showdown and dedicated $6,000 in ad spend for the battle royale: Square vs. Vertical. Which format would take home the belt?

The answer will probably upset you. Here’s what they found:

Vertical video drives more clicks than square in the Facebook News Feed

Vertical video consistently outperformed square video in every measurable metric when used in the Facebook News Feed.

  • Cost per click (CPC) was 26-38% less expensive
  • Cost per view (CPV) was anywhere between 26-68% less than square video
  • Facebook outperformed Instagram in average CPC within the feed

Instagram Stories Drive Engagement

  • Stories resulted in anywhere from 50-57% lower CPCs and CPMs than the Feed
  • CPVs, however, increased failrly dramatically since it is more difficult to inspire viewers to watch the entire video before tapping through to the next one

Instagram Feed Reigns Supreme

Lastly, the Insta Feed drove way more engagement compared to both Facebook Stories and News Feed, as well as Insta Stories, in any video format. But vertical video especially kicked ass compared to square video.

Check out other takeaways from the study here.

It’ll Be OK

Once you realize the beauty of vertical video, you’ll wonder why you never saw it before. A baby’s first steps. Your kid walking for graduation. Flexin’ in your new Yeezys. These are all instances where shooting in portrait mode is far superior to shooting landscape. Filming in landscape would mean including a bunch of superfluous surroundings on the side or choosing which part of the subject you want to film. I mean, people are naturally vertical. You’re not against people, are you?

Besides, I don’t know about y’all but I want to see my baby’s smiling face and his feet while he’s taking his first steps.

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