The Future is Vertical not Horizontal

Originally published in 2018, I take a look on the future of the way we will consume media and predict that we will consume media vertically and not horizontally.

The Future is Vertical not Horizontal
The Future is Vertical not Horizontal

Originally published on LinkedIn on July 11, 2018.

Brands have been slow to adopt to new, mobile friendly video formats - some predict that more than 65% of videos on YouTube are horizontal, and this creates a disconnect from the biggest audiences, which are all mobile, some 58% of all online users prefer mobile over desktop according to 'comSCORE' and this percentage is set to increase Year on Year, if it hasn't already, considering data gathered is for the previous year.

Mobile phones are generally a lot more cheaper than desktops, or even tablets. Emerging economies are all about mobile - after all, it's cheaper. A smartphone can now be purchased for around £40 (or around $53) depending on the brand and the specification. India for instance is a heavy investor in the tech sector, 78.5% of the market in India is mobile, with 20.99% being desktop, and tablet lacking behind at only 0.51% of India's entire market share, according to StatCounter.

With the recent launch of Instagram's new long-form, 'off-shoot' component IGTV, we've seen the heavy promotion of vertical-first content. IGTV, is set to be Facebook's own take to combat the likes of YouTube and Vimeo, as more and more users jump to Instagram to stay up-to-date and view the content they enjoy, and the caveat to the launch, it's all vertical.

While websites are more and more responsive, and some scale incredibly well on mobile, media has been left behind due to the precedent of not being able to scale the static, whilst more dynamic elements such as vectors are easily scalable, and therfore taking precedent when it comes to development and scalability of new technologies - but as the web gets smarter, so should the media we interact with.

Some publishers, such as The Daily Mail, Mashable and Huffington Post are adopting the vertical video formats, considering most of the readership is now done on a phone rather than a desktop, or through legacy means - it only makes sense. Comments such as 'you're filming the wrong way, flip the phone to horizontal' are becoming less and less, as more and more people find themselves using only their phones for day to day activities.

Even Google, the giant in setting web trends is now giving preference to mobile-first websites, rather than the legacy, website we used to know and work hard to rank on search first for. For most brands, mobile should be customer focused with the desktop counterparts acting as 'B2B' - where scalability or user experience isn't as important. Even e-commerce is becoming more mobile, so having flawless, scalable media is a must for any brand looking to increase their engagement rates.

The industry wide question at the moment, is how to scale video as a medium, successfully. Scaling horizontal to vertical creates an ugly blunder as we saw with GoPro stream on IGTV - audiences want recognizable content where they don't have to focus on a scaled-down version of a video with a background lazily put in the background.

Hopefully with the launch and spread of IGTV, we can start seeing a trend of new innovations being implemented across the board for easier integration for consumption of vertical content, where perhaps both desktop and mobile users can feel happy. In the future, it wouldn't come as surprise if mobile phones will be able to shoot both vertically and horizontally at the same time, although this creates more of a hassle for editors in post-production, with new app developments, the process could be streamlined - after all, if you take the time to ensure your content quality is on par, your audiences will appreciate it that much more.