For years the battle of vertical vs. horizontal video has raged, and for years the verdict of social was clear:

Vertical video is used by no-one except out-of-touch parents unsure if the camera is even on, let alone orientated correctly!

But we are creatures of adaptation…

Whether shot out of laziness, in urgency or with actual artistic intent, the once unforgivable technique of vertical filming has ballooned in use, surpassing acceptability and now bordering on – excuse me while I shudder – acclaim.

Forget about its ghastly youth, about the droves of memories spoiled. Vertical video has broken free of the black bars that once kept it prisoner.

Its potential has been acknowledged by all of the platforms that matter, which are now proclaiming vertical video to be the future of social.

Yes my friends, the day is upon us… 

But I’m Not Sure I Can Stop Hating Vertical

Come on, I know you’ve been saying you want to try new things.

Vertical video’s a lot like that spur of the moment yoga class you and your friends took after burritos last year – it’s not always the right time for it, but at other points it’s just what you need.

So cast off your aversions – we’re going to be seeing a whole lot more vertical video and I’ve got five huge reasons why.

  1. Our Phones Are Made to be Held Vertically

Hold your smartphone in your hand and you’ll see it’s proportioned perfectly for filming and viewing vertical video. And if it weren’t for over 100 years of cinematic tradition, we’d probably be taking advantage of this a lot more often.

However, forward-thinking marketers have already started to (prepare yourself) turn things around.

See, ads that require you to rotate your phone suffer can reduce their engagement rates by up to 50% (don’t get me started on those who disable automatic screen rotation!) so vertical video may well serve up the perfect answer to maximising audience numbers.

And when you consider that consumers hold their phones vertically 94% of the time, the whole vertical thing starts to sound a little less crazy…

  1. Mobile is the Platform for Social

Whether it’s recipe suggestion videos or those fitness vlogs you’re definitely not watching for anything but the squat technique, we spend hours on social media each day and perform a gigantic 61% of this activity via our smartphones.

We are using our computers less each year, with mobile internet usage predicted to be a staggering six times greater than computer usage by 2018.

With suggestible handset design and the fact that most of those advocating horizontal video don’t even bother rotating their phones to view horizontal media, it’s clear why vertical will be the natural next step for networks and advertisers alike. 

  1. Platforms are Powering Up for Vertical

Snapchat was first social network to show the world the potential of vertical video, and now just about every platform is vertical-friendly.

Instagram showed this when it released its similar function (read: totally ripping off Snapchat), then WhatsApp did the same and now we have Facebook jumping in to debut its very own vertical format.

Even stalwart YouTube, once infamous for its refusal of vertical uploads, has changed its tune. And it doesn’t stop at platforms either.

Smartphone manufacturers themselves are optimising for vertical – like LG’s G6 and dedicated social channels – and news outlets like the BBC are headed down the same path.

Can we just accept that vertical is the new social video movement? 

  1. Some Angles Just Look Better Vertical

Alright, I admit it – some videos really do look better filmed in portrait.

Shots that work best involve tall and narrow architecture, the potential for scaling shots and other height-related aesthetics. Trees, waterfalls, shuttle launches… all your basic subjects.

Maybe you’re recording a timelapse of a demolition and the vertical framing will better represent the building’s sheer size as well as its subsequent absence.

Perhaps you’re filming your friend ski down through a rocky outcrop and a vertical shot will be more complementary to its size (we all know it’s little more than a speedbump, really).

Or maybe you’re Jean-Charles Granjon, director of Impact, the vertical masterpiece that delves into the high diver’s psyche, and are purposely manipulating the vertical frame for cinematic impact.

Vertical categories are popping up across respected film festivals the world over, as well as the first vertical video festival. As video-makers we are keen to find the best shot – even if that goes against everything we’ve learned up to this point.

  1. It’s More Engaging, Some Say…

Sarah Wood of Unruly insists that vertical video is more engaging, and with Snapchat’s vertical ads recording a staggering 9x higher completion rate than horizontal competitors, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

Vertical bodes well for new live formats seen across Facebook and Instagram, providing a focus upon lone speakers that complements their frame and provides viewers with a sense of personal address, not unlike the vertical video conferencing movement led by platforms like Blab.

It’s less saturated and it’s different – vertical ads capture consumer attention more effectively and more completely. In the simple consideration of maximising screen space, it’s a no-brainer. 

The Only Way Is Up(right)

Conventions of video established over centuries are changing before our eyes – it sure is a crazy time to be alive.

When properly produced and implemented, vertical video offers an exciting new approach and the format is wide open for innovation. It provides a viral, personal sensation that clients desire and for a short window at least will feel most genuine to consumers.

Whether you love it or hate it – vertical video is undeniably fresh. We rate it and will definitely be continuing to document its takeover throughout 2017.

We’d also love to hear from you so whether you were an early adopter or remain sceptical of the format, share your thoughts below!