Snapchat Drives Trend Toward Vertical Videos

By Paresh Dave
Los Angeles Times.


Whether it’s in a movie theater, on TV or on a computer screen, the videos you watch have almost always been horizontal.

The rise of smartphones has quietly rotated that standard 90 degrees, with people, particularly young mobile users, flouting long-held ideas about the “right” way to capture video.

On 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.

The company is so confident in the future of vertical video that it announced last month that it had partnered with WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency, and the Daily Mail to form Truffle Pig, an ad agency whose specialties will include vertical video ad development.

With more than 100 million users and 2 billion video views daily, Snapchat’s acceptance is forcing its competitors and advertisers to reconsider video formats as well.

Last 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 it’s “looking into” vertical, and some startups are building apps and hardware that treat vertical video as a distinct art.

The cardinal rule for video has been to shoot in horizontal mode, which caters to people’s horizontally spread eyes. But smartphones are built vertically to take into account the distance between the ears and the mouth.

YouTube 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 more logical.

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