There is little doubt short-form video is here to stay. Snap is enjoying success in the form of drama series made specifically for the platform, while Facebook and Google are both investing heavily in short-form platforms.
And the rise of short-form video content has largely been synonymous with the vertical format.
If you look at platforms like Snapchat, TikTok and even Instagram’s IGTV, vertical has been the display of choice for the publishers.
So is vertical here to stay?
Writer and director of Snapchat’s original series Two Sides Hannah Lehmann (feature image), believes that despite the artistic constraints of vertical video, audiences are now hooked.
“If you look at a platform like Snapchat, everything on that platform was already in vertical. So there’s no reason for the user to turn their phone,” Lehmann said at B&T’s breakfast event at Snap Inc in Sydney on Tuesday.
She pointed out that if users are scrolling on their phones and come across something that isn’t vertical, many will tilt their heads to watch it rather than tilting their phones because “people are lazy”.
“Coming out of LA and being in that film world, all anyone can talk about is this new app called Quibi,” she continued.
Backed by the likes of Steven Spielberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi is positioning itself as a genuine Netflix alternative with content made specifically for the phone.
Quibi, set to launch next year, will buck the trend slightly, with plans for videos to be displayed in both vertical and horizontal.
Downsides of short-form?
And while short-form video – whether that be a drama series or a six-second ad – provides content that is fun and easily digestible, there is a risk the emotion can be taken out of it, argued TRIBE AU sales director Sammy Major.
“There’s a lot you can do in six seconds, but there’s also a lot you can’t do from a brand connection point of view,” she said.
“I think that’s the really sad thing about this. I still think creative agencies have such a part to play and I think brands should really consider injecting a lot of their budgets into brand engagement and awareness before trying all these different things on every social platform.”
Similarly, there are clearly constraints to short-form in the ability to tell a story. But Publicis head of content and sport AUNZ Patrick Whitnall suggested context is the critical factor.
“Long-form will always exist. People always say ‘we can’t be doing that in short-form’, and for me War and Peace is always there and how you view it is up to you. But when you’re sat on the toilet or on the train, and you’re sitting there vertically, you don’t have time to watch War and Peace, you want short-form content that might be an update or a show,” he said.
“It’s based on your interest your time and your device. It’s not the death of [long-form], it’s just how you’re consuming it.”
Lehmann agreed with Whitnall, pointing out that her show fits this mould.
“My show, for example, is not event television. It’s a show that’s meant to be watched around the edges of your life, on the bus, in the bathroom, standing in line,” she said.
“It’s able to connect with the audience and resonate with them on an emotional level, but it’s smart in the way it understands the viewers’ viewing habits and where it’s going to be watched.”
Photographer: Connor Sprague