tall, narrow fountain in millenium park which features videos of Chicago residents
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There was a time when vertical videos were considered the ghastliest sight on the internet. Those vertical black bars that surrounded the video screamed of amateur, low-quality footage. But times have changed.

Today, as we swipe (or tap) across our stories on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, vertical video content is what we’re all craving. A growing number of brands and social media influencers have embraced vertical videos as part of their marketing strategy, and they’ve seen an increase in engagement and brand awareness as a result.

Given that we hold our phones vertically 94 percent of the time, is it fair to say that vertical videos are the future of content marketing? We asked the experts.

Why Vertical Video Marketing Is on the Rise

One of the reasons vertical video marketing is becoming popular with brands is because it's coming in line with current consumer behavior. The latest figures from Statistica show that 52.2 percent of all web traffic in 2018 has been generated from mobile devices, up from 50.3 percent in 2017. “Vertical video marketing is on the rise mainly because people are consuming their content, more and more on mobile and on-the-go. Today, the vast majority of content captured on smartphones is shot vertically, meaning while holding the mobile phone upright,” said Hila Shitrit Nissum, VP of Communications at Promo.com.

Nissum added that consuming videos vertically provides the “best watching experience” since the vertical video takes up the entire screen and enables users to hold the device in one hand and have the other hand free to interact with the device.

Taylor Hurff, digital strategist at 1SEO I.T. Support & Digital Marketing, said vertical videos can hold user attention better, which is ideal for brands wanting to raise their awareness. “Just like Instant Experience ads, vertical videos immerse the user in a full-screen brand experience. You don’t have to compete with any suggested videos, comment fields, or even notification icons in the margins. With vertical videos, you get the user’s full attention for as long as your video content can hold it,” Hurff said.

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Which Platform Is Best 

The big-name social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter have all been optimized for vertical videos, with many of the platforms removing the “black bars” to provide a better experience. However, Steve Weiss, CEO and co-founder at MuteSix, noted that the optimum video length across each platform varies. "Longer [vertical] videos are better suited for Facebook as the average user experience is usually three minutes per session. In contrast, Instagram users prefer shorter [vertical] videos that work best when they are under two minutes,” Weiss said.

Weiss added that, “Brands are finding the biggest opportunities on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat where vertical video already has its formats, [with] Stories and Newsfeed, and an audience primed to consume content on a daily basis.”

However, it is important to note that not every platform is 100 percent vertical. While Facebook uses vertical videos in Stories, its Live Video feature uses the horizontal video format. LinkedIn also uses the horizontal video format.

The Future of Content Marketing?

The general consensus is that the vertical video format provides more engagement than the horizontal format, since it is built for how people are currently consuming video content on mobile.

However, as Weiss highlighted, for marketers to take full advantage of this format, they would need to be mindful of certain challenges. “The [video] creator will need to learn new view behaviors such as an eye movement that moves top down instead of left to right and fit a narrative to in a vertical experience. The key differentiator is the standard video creation process,” Weiss said.

The other challenge that marketers will need to face is that not every platform will accept the vertical video format. For this, Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, advised brands to “create video assets that can be used both as horizontal or vertical and use the format that works best for the channel. Another option is to create a header and footer on a horizontal video to make it vertical. You can share a headline or title in the header and subtitles in the footer to maximize engagement,” Neher said.

Whether or not vertical content is the future of content marketing, brands should not deny the benefits of a well-produced vertical video.

“Vertical videos are excellent for adding a layer of immersiveness to your video marketing as opposed to overt intrusiveness. Consumers like an edgy, intimate feel in video as it helps capture the human experience,” Weiss said. “This makes vertical video fantastic for showcasing day-in-the-life clips or behind the scenes shots. It lets your audience feel like they’re the ones behind the lens, offering them an authentic customer experience.”