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New Year’s Resolution: Vertical viewing will shake up video in 2016

In the latest of a series of predictions on the year ahead, Hamish Nicklin, managing director, AOL UK, offers up his thoughts on what 2016 will bring.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you viewed a video vertically? I’d wager – and this goes double if you’re under the age of 30 – it wasn’t as long ago as you might initially have thought. 

The emergence of vertical video as a new advertising format is one of the most exciting areas of opportunity we see for 2016. According to the digitally omnipotent Mary Meeker, vertical video viewing already accounts for 29 per cent of total time spent on screens, a figure it is suggested will rise even further over the next 12 months.

Whereas in recent times marketers would have sniffed at the thought of creating or optimising video for vertical viewing, there is an increasing acceptance of vertical video as a result of the popularity of mobile apps like Snapchat, Periscope and Vine.  In addition, as smartphones become the most popular device for accessing the internet in the UK (which happened for the first time in 2015 according to Ofcom), audiences are dictating to marketers who once would have turned up their nose at the idea of vertical video how they want to consumer content.

One of the perceived challenges for brands looking to make a foray into vertical is that they must create made-for-mobile content, or work with a partner who can retrospectively re-edit and retrofit TV commercials in this new aspect ratio. As such, when using video, brands must now identify how they are going to create, produce and distribute their content before they kick-off campaigns. If they do, we don’t see vertical as a challenge, we see it as an opportunity to find new ways to engage and to capitalise on new video inventory across devices.

So what New Year’s resolution can we all make when it comes to vertical video?  Well, primarily it’s to think mobile-first when it comes to video. More specifically, it’s to ask the following three questions:  

  1. Ask yourself, can the message of my campaign be transmitted within the first 10 seconds of a video, and can it be done silently to ensure effectiveness on muted auto plays? If not, then ask how we as a brand adapt our message for our audience, wherever they are.
  2. Ask your tech partners, can my campaigns be optimised across screens and formats, regardless of the device itself or the location? If not, change that – the technology is out there to make it happen.
  3. Ask your publishers, can you help to create compelling vertical viewing experiences for your audience base in a way that will create premium inventory for my campaign? If not, let’s work together to realise that.

These three questions are all ones I’m going to be asking of myself and our clients in 2016. Vertical video has the potential to create huge new opportunities for engaging target audiences, so let’s start taking it seriously and seeing just what it can achieve. 

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