How SMEs Can Use Vertical Video for Digital Marketing

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How SMEs Can Use Vertical Video for Digital Marketing

Vertical video, once dismissed as amateurish by art directors and maligned by internet users, has taken over the social video ecosystem as a dominant, in-demand format. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter now support vertical video

Here’s what businesses should know about using vertical video for digital marketing

A Brief History of Vertical Video

We’ve been watching video horizontally since the introduction of moving pictures in 1891 and later, TV, in 1927. But the smartphone’s invention in 1992 has radically changed the the way we consume and record video content. 

The vertical video format was invented by accident (or laziness, as some would say) with mobile users forgetting to rotate their phones before filming. It wasn’t until 2010 that Snapchat was invented and made it a popular video format.

Not to be outdone, Instagram started using the vertical format in IG Stories in 2016 with ephemeral 15-second “stories” that disappear after 24 hours. The social network rolled out IGTV in 2018, which allowed users and brands to publish long-form vertical videos lasting up to one hour that stay permanently on their channels.

With these changes, SMEs must seize the marketing opportunities that the format has to offer. Vertical challenges the way we approach and execute video content. It requires a new and different way of thinking, from pre-production to publishing. But when done right, vertical video in digital marketing can be a rewarding and lucrative choice. 

Why Vertical Video Marketing is on the Rise

In many ways, smartphones were designed to be used vertically, not horizontally. Mobile users typically check emails or scroll through their Facebook feed in portrait orientation, for example, which feels more intuitive.

As a matter of fact, people hold their phones vertically 94% of the time. Less than 30% will rotate their phones to watch an ad, and even then, they’ll only watch 14% of it. Perhaps it isn’t so much laziness as it is natural instinct. 

The vertical format has other advantages, including:

  • Vertical video eliminates distractions and other details that are normally present in horizontal formatting (

Because mobile users hold their phone vertically when viewing content or scrolling through their feeds, adding vertical video to your social media marketing strategy has the potential to drive engagement and traffic to your social media profile (

  • It significantly improves ROI on social media campaigns – a series of tests found that vertical video was 68% less expensive in terms of cost per view when comparing vertical videos and square-shaped videos with identical content, length, headline, and caption (
  • Vertically oriented ads received up to 9x more engagement on Snapchat, according to the first advertisers to test-drive marketing on the social sharing app (
  • 79% of new vertical video consumers say that it’s more engaging and would prefer it in most cases while 65% think brands with vertical video ads are more innovative (
  • Advertisers can shoot, edit, and post vertical videos in minutes with outstanding results and little to no spending – other kinds of video content, by comparison, take more time and money to plan, shoot, and edit (
  • The fast-paced lifestyle and relatively short attention span of modern consumers are well-matched with with vertical video and fast, portable content on-the-go (
  • Because it’s easily viewable and shareable, vertical video enhances customer experience and intensifies the impact of your messaging (

What this Means for Australian SMEs

The rise of vertical video ads offers new and exciting ways of engaging old and new customers. It also gives Australian advertisers the freedom to explore new ideas and produce more creative video ads since they are no longer confined to the horizontal video format.  It also gives them new options on marketing platforms that have embraced vertical video. 

Elements of an Effective Vertical Video

  • Authenticity – Vertical video has its origins in amateur recordings and content creation. This allows creators to be more candid and vulnerable with vertical video content. 
  • Intimacy and Connection – Because vertical video rose to popularity on mobile, with people addressing viewers directly via smartphone camera and creating the impression of one-on-one communication, there’s a certain level of intimacy and connection that isn’t achievable with other video formats.
  • Vertical Aspect Ratio – Make sure your video content is at least 1080 x 1920 pixels so that it fits a vertically oriented mobile screen. The ideal aspect ratio for major platforms like IG Stories, IGTV and Facebook Feed is 9:16 (
  • Brevity – As already mentioned, IGTV allows for vertical videos for up to an hour long. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should post longer videos. The ideal length for social media videos is between 2 to 5 minutes ( Consider breaking up longer video content into multiple shorter videos to give your followers an incentive to revisit your page. 
  • Impact – As with any ad, you have to grab viewers’ attention within the first few seconds before they click on another video. If all else fails, there’s always the “continue watching” tab on IGTV and “watch later” on YouTube. 

Which Platform is Best for Vertical Video?

YouTube has 2+ billion users ( and offers vertical video ad formats that cater to most brands’ and creative agencies’ advertising requirements. 

Instagram IGTV recieved 7+ million downloads in early 2020 ( IGTV started offering ads to help creators monetise video content via  mobile-optimised vertical videos up to 15 seconds long. 

Instagram Stories has 300+ million daily active users ( and allows advertisers to include a direct link from stories to IGTV videos for IGTV previews and teasers. 

Facebook has 1.69+ billion users ( and allows advertisers to create vertical video ad mockups via Creative Hub. 

Snapchat has 229+ million daily active users ( and has a Vertical Video Conversion Tool that lets users convert existing vertical videos into ads. 

TikTok has 800+ million monthly active users with nearly half of all users aged between 18 to 24 years old (

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Vertical video has overtaken horizontal to become the preferred video ad format in the world’s largest and most influential social media networks. But many of the fundamentals of video content, such as proper formatting and powerful messaging, still apply.  

Further the best practice is to have video content in various formats that perform best on any given platform. For example, videos ads for social media should be oriented vertically, while website videos should be oriented horizontally. 

Contevo is a Facebook and Instagram Marketing Partner with 15 years’ experience in digital marketing. We’d be happy to help you explore new formats for the best results. Just give us a call whenever you’re ready.

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