PMG Digital Made for Humans

The Top 3 Things To Know About Vertical Video

4 MINUTE READ | May 25, 2016

The Top 3 Things To Know About Vertical Video

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Earl Hwang

Earl Hwang has written this article. More details coming soon.

Thanks to platforms like Snapchat, brands all over the world are starting to take vertical video formats a lot more seriously.  User consumption of digital content across mobile devices has skyrocketed (duh), and these behaviors have been the driving force into how we view video as well.  Growing adoption across live video content platforms (Snapchat and Periscope) has changed the way branded video is presented to users, but also has it’s own set of rules to go along with it.

The truth is that we were never meant to use our phones horizontally.  The masses only turned their phones 90° because branded and app videos were presented in a horizontal format. We all bought into the lie that this was the only accepted “full screen” appearance for video.

Here are the Top 3 Things To Know About Vertical Video

1.) You can’t just make vertical video happen.

Don’t expect to cut vertical video from a widescreen format.  Not only will it cut off your subject and blow them out of proportion, you’re missing out on what you meant to do in the first place.  When brands shoot horizontal (wide) video, there is a lot more to take in from a subject standpoint.  The waves in the background (just and example) become an added focus for your viewers.

Vertical video is all about honing in on your subject and creating a new experience for your viewers.  The long format of video creates a more intimate viewing experience for the viewer, so “where you are” just isn’t as important as “what you’re saying.”  This view creates a more singular brand message.  The key is singular, as in “keeping it f****** simple.”

When thinking about production, make sure to storyboard vertical video separately from any larger video formats.  Video shoots are always filled with extra content, so make sure to save room for this in there.  Even Facebook is in the vertical video fold with their sexy new Canvas units, so getting ahead of the game is the best way to be prepared for video distribution.


                                                     ☝️This is the Facebook Canvas.☝️

2.) Time is of the essence.

No one wants to watch a four minute long vertical video.  NO ONE.


☝️Documentary style vertical video sounds like a nightmare.☝️

For those of you that take 4min long Snapchat stories of yourself…SHAME ON YOU.  Vertical video is the “mobile-est” of all video formats. Keep it around 15-20 seconds.  Since we only view it on our devices, it’s safe to assume that users are more prone to watch shorter length videos vs. longer forms.  The data is out there… I just didn’t want to sound repetitive.

For some of the larger vertical video partners, your video will loop.  If you want repetition and people to remember what the point of your story, keep it short.  If it’s compelling, they watch it on repeat.

3.) Don’t over-think it.

A vertical video story does not have in-depth character development.  It’s quick and to the point.  Try to use subjects that are easily recognizable and don’t require users to think too much during it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 2.17.10 PM

This car company made videos about cars…. BINGO!

If you’re a travel brand, focus on travel.  Boats,planes or even hovercrafts…. 

If you’re a sports brand, focus on sports.  Players, teams or even players on teams…

If you’re a food blogger… YOU GET IT.

Don’t try to tell an elaborate story, because you’re just going to lose your audience in the build up anyway.

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Vertical video isn’t something that came out of thin air.  It’s been with us for as long as phones have had video recording capability.  What changed is that new platforms are challenging how we consume all kinds of media.  From full screen experiences to immersive 3d, we are coming into an exciting time as the mobile experience is going through an Industrial Revolution of sorts.  That being said, vertical video isn’t going anywhere.  It’s not just some trend that will die out like the Atkins Diet.  Adoption is real and everyone’s kids are going to be doing it (if they already aren’t doing so…).