There’s no going back now: YouTube fully commits to vertical video with new ad format

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YouTube had been slow to accept vertical video but they’re on board now.Fotografia de: Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you weren’t sure about vertical video before, you can be sure about it now. Vertical videos aren’t going anywhere.

YouTube just announced last week that they are rolling out a new vertical video ad format. 

According to the company, “more than 70 percent of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices” and because of that YouTube acknowledges “it’s important to adapt to their viewing behaviors.” Companies and brands will now have the option to upload vertical videos and run video advertisements that will conform to a viewers mobile screen. Vertical videos can be run in ad campaigns across YouTube’s apps and through its TrueView (skippable ad) product.

In its announcement, YouTube showcased a Hyundai vertical video advertisement that the car company tested out. The vertical video ads ran in a campaign along with their more traditional horizontal video commercials. YouTube states that paired with the vertical video, Hyundai’s campaign overall saw “a 33% percent lift in brand awareness and a nearly 12% lift in consideration.” Vertical video ads look like they’ll make advertisers very happy.

With this ad format move, YouTube — the last of the major vertical video holdouts — is also signaling that vertical video is here to stay.

Hyundai’s vertical video ad test run

YouTube had long been playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to vertical video. As the most senior of the online video platforms, YouTube had long catered to video in more standard, horizontal formats. With the rise of smartphones and the ability to quickly and easily shoot video with them, more and more video started to be created by people who would just point and shoot with their mobile device held upright, vertically. 

For a while, the resulting vertical video from iPhone and other smartphone users holding their phones in portrait mode never really displayed well on the site or its mobile apps. Debates would rage on about whether we should conform to vertical video as an alternative format or if smartphone videographers should just flip their phone and shoot in landscape mode. 

But then new social platforms like Snapchat came along, which embraced vertical video. Facebook and Instagram also easily accepted the vertical style, having already properly formatted its own popular 1:1 square videos on its platforms. Vertical video on YouTube, however, was long plagued with two thick black bars on each side of the video. Users were unable to properly view a vertical video on YouTube in full-screen, even on their phones.

YouTube had made some concessions to vertical video over the years. In 2015, YouTube addressed the black bar issue for the first time, making the necessary tweaks so that vertical video could be displayed full-screen. But, this change was only rolled out on Android devices. It took another two years for YouTube to finally display vertical videos as they were meant to be viewed across all of YouTube’s mobile platforms. And, it was only earlier this summer that YouTube rolled out a vertical video conforming desktop player that displayed vertical video without black bars on its non-mobile website and in social media embeds.

Even with those moves, however, YouTube was only reacting to a content format it was being forced to deal with. With its new vertical video ads, YouTube is essentially promoting and encouraging the use of the format for the very first time. And, if the internet’s video giant finds vertical videos to be successful as an advertising format, you can pretty much guarantee that they’re going to stick around.

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