ANGELES ó Whether itís in a movie theater, on TV or
on a computer screen, the videos you watch have almost
always been horizontal.
rise of smartphones has quietly rotated that standard 90
degrees, with people ó particularly young mobile users
ó flouting long-held ideas about the "right"
way to capture video.
Snapchat, one of the most popular apps among teens and
twentysomethings, vertical videos have become the norm.
Sensing the shift, the Los Angeles company has embraced
the atypical format and is betting that whether users
realize it or not, they prefer watching videos on the go
that are tall and narrow instead of short and wide.
company is so confident in the future of vertical video
that it announced last month that it had partnered with
WPP, the worldís largest advertising agency, and the
Daily Mail to form Truffle Pig, an ad agency whose
specialties will include vertical video ad development.
more than 100 million users and 2 billion video views
daily, Snapchatís acceptance is forcing its
competitors and advertisers to reconsider video formats
month, Twitter started showing landscape videos after
only allowing square videos. Facebook recently began
playing vertical videos on smartphones in full screen
and now plans to sell vertical video ads. YouTube says
itís "looking into" vertical, and some
startups are building apps and hardware that treat
vertical video as a distinct art.
cardinal rule for video has been to shoot in horizontal
mode, which caters to peopleís horizontally spread
eyes. But smartphones are built vertically to take into
account the distance between the ears and the mouth.
and other early apps encouraged users to turn their
phones to make video viewing familiar. But Snapchat
rejected the approach, launching four years ago with
buttons on the app placed in such a way that shooting
and watching videos with the phone upright would feel
was a risky strategy, given the wide usage of landscape
video and the disdain for portrait mode. But the
calculated choice by Snapchat Chief Executive Evan
Spiegel, who studied product design at Stanford
University, was ultimately a wise one. Mobile users have
become comfortable reading emails, scrolling through
photos and watching videos without rotating their
smartphones, about 94 percent of website visits across
the world begin in portrait mode, according to
ScientiaMobile, which tracks more than 1 billion
Internet browsing sessions each month.
that everything is on cellphones, itís more valuable
to shoot content vertically," said entertainer
Shaun McBride, whose Snapchat videos are viewed by
hundreds of thousands of people. "Itís not
necessarily that vertical is better, itís just that itís
how cellphones are commonly viewed."
28, who goes by the Snapchat user name Shonduras, said
he appreciates the in-your-face perspective of vertical
videos and the fact that it feels natural.
something cool happens ó a deer runs across the road
ó you donít think, ĎIím going to turn my
cellphone horizontally and get a really good shot,í"
he said, noting that "99.89 percent" of the
Snapchat messages he receives from fans are in portrait.
media executives donít expect two-hour movies in
portrait mode to appear any time soon. But as people
increasingly replace thumbing through TV channels with
tapping on smartphone videos, itís hard to see
verticalís upswing slowing. That is turning shooting
in vertical, once an anathema in Hollywood, into a real
consideration in certain cases.
more apps that prioritize vertical videos emerge as
platforms in which content producers can make money, itís
going to become "very worthwhile to put resources
toward building vertically," said Kathleen Grace,
chief creative officer of online video studio New Form
has major implications for online video ads, a
fast-growing industry that is expected to reach $2.6
billion in revenue this year in the U.S., according to
first appearing last fall, all video ads on Snapchat
have been vertical, including promo spots for Tide
detergent, "Jurassic World" and the Samsung
Galaxy S6 Edge.
recent months, Snapchatís Spiegel trumpeted the
initial success of those vertical video ads in an Adweek
cover story, at a big digital advertising conference and
during the Cannes Lions International Festival of
Creativity in France.
company says quick videos ads that fill vertical, or
portrait, displays are nine times more likely to be
watched than the horizontal, or landscape, ads found on
most other websites and apps.
with its new Truffle Pig ad agency, the company is going
a step further. The aim is to get advertisers to
recognize vertical as the preferred mobile screen
orientation among consumers, and subsequently make it
easier for advertisers to create vertical ads by
providing them with a suite of portrait-centric insights
you canít imagine something is better or more dynamic
until it comes," said Alexander Jutkowitz, an
advertising veteran who is Truffle Pigís CEO.
"Well, it has come and we should see what we can do
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Gieselman, senior vice president of marketing for
DirecTV, said advertisers will be excited to take
advantage of the new flexibility offered by vertical
video ads on smartphones.
it going to change the industry? No," he said.
"But vertical can sometimes be more impactful."
in the entertainment technology industry are unsure
where portrait goes beyond Snapchat. Would people really
want to watch a "Game of Thrones" episode or a
baseball game vertically on their phones? Is it the app,
the content or the ergonomics driving the behavior?
far, Google-owned YouTube is standing by landscape.
Portrait video in YouTubeís app displays in a tiny
frame with black bars on the sides, and Googleís
Camera app encourages capturing video in landscape mode.
several startups are starting to push vertical, or at
least embracing both screen orientations.
app Stre.am was designed for portrait or landscape
viewing and horizontal filming. Now, the startup is
developing technology to allow horizontal capture while
maintaining a portrait grip, Chief Technology Officer
Jeremy Martin said.
Jose startup Vervid, meanwhile, wants to be the vertical
YouTube. When Chief Executive John Whaley noticed angry
YouTube commenters criticizing video owners for shooting
vertically, he saw an opportunity in the friction
between video purists and the selfie generation. His app
makes vertical videos look attractive by displaying them
in full screen, with no black bars, and high quality.
big TV screens are now hanging the long way. Enplug, a
startup that specializes in real-time digital signage
software for businesses, initially installed screens
vertically so that the surprising orientation would draw
peopleís gazes, said Ryan Gushue, the startupís
company now lets customers handle installation, with
about 1 in 4 choosing to hang their screens vertically.
propelled the vertical video movement forward. But Chris
Swain, a design expert who has taught video-game-making
at USC, also credits the iPhone with changing long-held
rules about the look of content. These days his phoneís
camera roll is filled with both portrait and landscape
images taken, he said, "with no rhyme or
about what feels right," he said.