Recently Buffer released a four part email about the rise of vertical video in marketing and how to capitalize on it. These emails were well founded in the recent history of the use of this medium in the advertising space, emphasizing the “authentic” nature of vertical framing based on vernacular usage, as Miriam Ross pointed out in 2014 in her video essay https://vimeo.com/99499627 and Refactory article https://refractory-journal.com/ross/ Also practitioners have found that overly produced video has not tended to work as well as more “raw” looks as pointed out in this recent article by Thomas Harding in Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/07/11/two-steps-brands-need-to-take-when-leveraging-ugc-for-storytelling/ So, while raw, user-generated or unpolished vertical video is the current norm, there are a couple of new trends in vertical video that may be worthwhile to look into. Perhaps too new to be of value for marketers right now, it is always a good idea to see where things are going and to try new ideas rather than miss out on the latest trends. The two trends that I am talking about are music vertical videos and high fashion runway videos.
Music vertical videos have been in modest use since 2009 when Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” video was uploaded to YouTube. At 22 million views, it is still in the top 5 music vertical videos of all time. But in 2017 the production of music vertical videos started to accelerate. I mark the beginning of this trend to the Coldplay fan-contributed video for “Amazing Day.” This video conveniently also bridges the “user generated content” with professional editing to produce a video that made an impact (5 million views on Facebook, not a major vertical video platform at the time, 1.6 million views on YouTube.) By far the most popular music vertical video, released in November 2017 with over 100 million YouTube views, is “Havana” by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug directed by Sam Lecca. Note that this is a completely different video from the one that won the 2018 MTV VMA best music video award! There have been well over 100 music vertical videos produced by artists including Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Selena Gomez as well as lesser known artists. New ones are being produced weekly, usually debuting on Spotify where they disappear after a time. Not all of them end up being archived to YouTube, some even are making it to IGTV where they do not yet count toward Bilboard 100 streams or for monetization. One trend that I have seen in these videos is the use of colored lenses to give an unusual look or mood. One artist to keep your eye on in this space is Billie Eilish, who, while only 16 years old, has two of the most popular music vertical videos. Here are three YouTube playlists featuring the most popular to the “also ran” music vertical videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcu5dHLQm-CI5dHWK-LezcQLZAcKXkLn0 (most popular)
The absolute latest vertical video trend, that began with the debut of IGTV in late June, is the release of high fashion runway videos that are cropped to vertical aspect ratio. Runway show videos are nothing new, and all of the high fashion houses produce them and often distribute them on YouTube. However, beginning with some earlier shows and then continuing with the “city fashion weeks” (New York, London, Paris, Milan) starting in September, almost all of the houses have posted their Spring/Summer women’s fashion runway shows on IGTV cropped to vertical. Because runway shows can be tedious (numerous models parading) these videos usually feature multiple camera angles, including low angle, high angle, front shots, side shots, close-ups, zooms, etc. Although these shots were not optimized for the vertical frame per se, they do give lots of ideas for vertical framing. Actually, because the focus is on the models, who are tall and thin (as is vertical video) the crops work much better than would be expected in more general video framing. You can see both versions of several runway shows by following the links in my twitter “Moment” on the subject: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1041072796867153922 but you can easily find them (and many more) yourself by searching for the fashion houses on IGTV or Instagram and on YouTube. (They are remarkably similar so you don’t have to view all of them!)
Raw, user generated, amateurish video has worked well in the recent past in the vertical aspect ratio for advertising/marketing. Actually, although the vertical framing of video advertising on poster type public displays rather than personal devices has been around for years, the acceleration of mainstream usage can be dated to around 2015-6, so really only a few years. It is worth keeping an eye on the trends outside of the advertising/marketing sphere to stay ahead of the game, or at least be able to catch up when a trend gets real traction. Music and fashion are a couple of places to keep your eye on for the near future.