Our eyes are horizontal, why go vertical???

By Linh PMP

Motion pictures are horizontal. TVs are horizontal. Computer screens are horizontal. Web responsive. People eyes are horizontal. We aren’t built to watch vertical videos. Say no to vertical videos! You’re holding your phone the wrong way” (Vertical Video Syndrome, 2012).

But wait, mobile screens are vertical. We’re more comfortably holding our mobile phones vertically. And it’s 2016.

linh pmp vertical video 2.png

We do go vertical

According to Mary Meeker’s Internet trends report, global mobile data traffic increased 69% in 2014, among which mobile video traffic accounts for 55%. And interestingly, in 2015, vertical videos take 29% of time spent on screens by audience. On Snapchat, Full-Screen Vertical Video Ads have 9x Higher Completion Rate compared to Horizontal ones (Mary Meeker, 2015). Yes, our eyes are horizontal, but our optical focus on our little mobile babies is vertical.

It just feels… right

Do you usually hold your phone horizontally to watch a video? To record a video that’s only for sending out to some friends with no worry about editing it on a laptop screen? I surely don’t. Statistically people don’t. Then a lot of videos have been viewed and shot in the way that’s “not supposed to be”, because we just do what’s more convenient for us. And “convenient” – isn’t it a key word in technology?

Plus, vertical shots look more casual, natural and focused. Let’s compare

Geico’s career site and their profile on The Muse, a job listing site.

Vertical video geico
GEICO’s company site
Vertical video the muse
GEICO’s profile on The Muse

Same company, same message, but the horizontal version looks more like a movie while the vertical one sounds more like a friend’s sharing. And especially if you open the browser on mobile, the vertical visual perfectly fits the screen and somehow makes you feel like talking to the person in the shot.

What’s the future?

Believe it or not, there is a site named saynotoverticalvideos.com. But at the same time there are some guys having run the “Youtube for vertical videos”, Vervid, who claim to build a home for vertical stuffs. The vertical community is big enough for them to target.

Take a further step, Snapchat, the emerging kingdom that drives trend toward vertical videos, has launched a vertical video ad agency. “3V are Vertical – Videos – Views. Vertical – because it’s made for mobile. Videos -because that’s the best way to tell stories. And Views – because they are always full screen”, shared Even Spiegel, Snapchat CEO. Well, it’s definitely a new home for marketers / advertisers.

And traditionally horizontal-based publishers are catching the trend too. What’s on your mind when hearing about CNN or National Geography? A big TV screen with news and high-quality visuals? Still, they offer news and high-quality visuals, but now vertically! Have a look at their snapchats. Not less amazing.


Years ago, we had to view the desktop sites on our tiny mobile screens, then felt much grateful when they launched the mobile site versions (with a little “m.” to differentiate with the original desktop site, eg. m.hershey.com). But nowadays we almost take it for granted that a site must be “responsive” on any types of screens. Following the trend, there will be one day when the videos themselves are responsive to any platforms and screens’ standards. It’s all about making the audience happy, no matter it is horizontal, vertical, or even leaning at 3.99 degrees like Pisa Tower. We human are super demanding and that’s how we grow.

Original cover photo (without play button, and displayed vertically 🙂 ) by indianexpress.com

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