Creating vertical video for a mobile first generation

In this discussion from Eurobest in London, Grant Munro: General Manager at Shutterstock Custom, Milton Elias: Head of Mobile and Video at News UK and Kat Hahn: Lead at Facebook and Instagram’s Creative Shop, talk about the solutions for brands to create vertical-specific video content both quickly and affordably.

A mobile world

Munro: “Mobile is by far the biggest driver of vertical video. Consumers spend around three hours per day on their mobiles, and check them on average 150 times a day. Most of this time is spent within apps ­– not hundreds of apps, but just a few. Namely, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

“YouTube has been playing vertical videos full-screen since 2015 and Snapchat claimed vertical video ads on its platform were watched in full nine times more than horizontal video ads. Shooting vertical video is now key, but few brands are tapping into the vertical video format due to limited time and resources.”

Elias: “I work closely with News UK’s editorial teams and product people ensuring what we offer partner brands is as valuable as possible. Not just for them but also for the end user. Moving to vertical video as an ad platform is a no-brainer.

“At News UK we have seen massive growth in mobile: 92% of The Sun’s digital audience visits via mobile platforms, and for The Times it’s about 80%. Offering tailored mobile video was a move that started with audiences naturally consuming more mobile content.”

Hahn: “At Facebook we now have 300 million accounts consuming mobile video on Instagram Stories every day. When creating vertical video for mobile, you are adding value by catering for people’s needs. Rather than saying “just deal with horizontal video” you are putting people first.”

Munro: “When creating vertical videos, it is vital to think like the users of mobile and social platforms. The difference between an app experience and a browser experience is consumers’ mindset and intent.

“Observe how people are using Facebook and approach them in a similar way. Within apps, people want to watch image and video content that is extremely visual and engaging. They are not just looking for information or searching for something specific as they would in-browser.”

Hahn: “It’s natural for people to film vertically on their mobile phones, similarly to how they consume. Vertical is the new normal, so you should always think about how to get the most out of the format, and invest in creating engaging visual content that suits.

“If you can’t find the resource to do anything vertically, a tip I often say to clients is you could also try reformatting your digital-out-of-home content. If you think about digital-out-of-home, it uses a similar vertical video format to mobile phones. Ask yourself, could your digital-out-of-home content be put onto Facebook or onto mobile phones? This could save you both time and money, as you extend the life of existing content.

“Depending on your brand, shooting vertical videos using a mobile camera can also be very effective. If your brand is young and fresh, a campaign shot on mobile can feel intimate, warm and authentic.”

Vertical on a budget

Munro: “When you create content for a social platform, there is a danger that it can all start to look too similar to other content on the platform, with little differentiation to competitor content on the social platform. For example, Instagram content can all start to look very Instagramm-y, and your brand’s look and feel could get lost.

“You can align a brand’s look and feel to a social platform’s by using mood boards. Take 25-50 aspirational images for your brand and identify specific creative variables that are common amongst those image sets. When you then create visual content for social media, you can use these images to judge if the content appears distinct and on brand.”

Hahn: “If you choose to shoot for both vertical and horizontal video, make sure all the important elements are included within the different formatting frames set in the monitors so that nothing vital is cut when in the editing suite.

“If you are shooting only horizontally, remember you can split up your horizontal video to fill a vertical screen through splitting and stacking to create video tiles. To portray a conversation, you can put the two frames of characters on top of each other by stacking video tiles.

“And get creative with editing. It’s not a huge cost implication to get an editor in and work with them for one day. By working with an editorial assistant, you could create a beautiful vertical video using your existing horizontal video assets.”

Elias: “Always remember to try and capture attention at the very beginning and keep your video short. Whilst 15-second video ads are commonplace, compelling stories can be beautifully told in 3-6 seconds with higher view-through rates. Understand your audience and environment - remember one size does not fit all.” 

Munro: “In summary, creating vertical video content does not always mean having to revamp your video content creation strategy. There are a number of ways you can create vertical video with limited resources, and on a budget.

“If this means you are forced to get creative, this could be a helpful process. And your efforts will no doubt pay off, as your mobile-hungry consumers will thank you for creating vertical videos that work for them, created with their needs in mind.”

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