Now Is The Time For Vertical Video And Social Ads

Woman holding hands smartphone in night atmospheric city.Female hands using mobile phone.Closeup on blurred background.Flares, bokeh effects

In this guest post, Shutterstock country manager AUNZ Garth Williamson discusses why now, during the time of CV-19, is the time to adopt vertical video and social ads…

It’s still too early to say how profound or permanent many changes in marketing practices will be as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. However, we can already predict that at least some trends will continue and perhaps even accelerate because of the current situation.

One trend that is certainly not going away is the consumption of mobile and video content. With consumption only increasing, interest in vertical video and vertical ads, in particular, is accelerating. Brands are challenged with investing even more in humanising their messaging and delivering more authentic content across platforms that enable closer engagement with audiences. Social media platforms with more substantial video features – such as Instagram and TikTok – are thriving as a result.

For marketers, embracing these trends was necessary long before the current crisis – now it is crucial for businesses and brands of all sizes.

What to do?

A recent study showed that 90 per cent of consumers think that it’s acceptable to discuss the current COVID-19 crisis in ads. However, the decisions about what is the appropriate message vary immensely from brand to brand. Finding the right balance is not easy, and mistakes are being made. Less controversial, though, are the formats and channels expected to have a better chance of success.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one global study predicted that by 2021, the average person would spend 100 minutes a day watching mobile video. Isolation and the need to communicate digitally are highlighting, even more, the centrality of mobile phones in everyone’s lives. They are being used continuously to talk to loved ones, consume information and enjoy much-needed distractions. They are even being praised as a tool to help fight the infection via contact tracing. People’s connection to their mobiles is becoming even stronger.

Despite being isolated with a computer at home, people are defaulting to using their mobile device for work-related activities like creating social media content. This is likely a consequence of the functionality on mobile applications being more sophisticated and intuitive than the web applications or sites. Shutterstock recently made its entire video collection available for download on its mobile applications for this reason.

Another trend is that vertical video is now widely accepted. Users hold their phones vertically about 94 per cent of the time and less than a third of users even turn their phones to watch a horizontal video on mobile.

According to Hootsuite, the average daily time spent on social media is two hours and 24 minutes, accounting for more than one-third of total internet time. This has been even more prevalent this year – mentions of IG Live on Twitter and Instagram increased by 526% between March 8 and March 15 and brands are taking to TikTok to provide comedic relief

These combined trends are pushing marketers to integrate vertical video ads into their campaigns.


Some still look at these trends as a pressure to do even more with smaller budgets, but this view ignores the benefits these trends bring. 

Vertical video ads for mobile social apps could have lower production costs. Audiences tend to prefer ads that look more like videos by their favourite influencers than traditional TV ads. They don’t need to be a complex production but rather have a relatable and current aesthetic.

Simpler production and formats can also be a great advantage when, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, marketers have to adapt or rapidly change their workflow and campaigns. They can also favour real-time marketing, which allows brands to become part of ongoing conversations and simultaneously promote themselves at the same time.

Vertical ads also do much better than horizontal ones when their completion rate is measured – their completion rate is 90 percent higher than horizontal videos.

The debate around vertical video ads and the power of social platforms is not new and has generated many passionate and opposing views. The current crisis might finally end this discussion in favour of the vertical advocates.



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