The vertical video opportunity

09 July 2018 / Matt Powell

All eyes are currently on IGTV, which offers up to 60 minutes of uninterrupted content. The app, which automatically imports your Instagram followers, not only challenges Youtube’s enduring dominance, but also enhances the status of vertical video as the way forward.

IGTV may be the perfect format for vloggers, who can jump straight in and start talking, but marketers have it harder. Original, long form content in a portrait format is a dauntingly expensive and time-consuming business when you’re a major brand. The alternative – and it’s not easy for a Creative Director to say this – is not to create something new at all, but instead look at what you’ve already got in a new light.

Many of the established brands we know and love have a surplus of outstanding advertising. TV and cinema commercials, material from other territories, and video languishing in Youtube channels. More of the good stuff should be reused to reach new consumers and re-engage existing ones.

PepsiCo’s Aman Matharu is of the same opinion: “If you know consumers loved that ad, bring it back and take it to new places via digital”

But whether it’s IGTV or Facebook’s feed you’re aiming for, it needs to be handled carefully. Audiences aren’t obligated to watch like they were with scheduled TV, and it almost certainly won’t have been shot with vertical in mind.

At Jaywing we recently re-engineered an international advert for Tostitos for Facebook. It was a process which involved seeing the original footage as a collection of assets. With a 4:5 vertical format to fill, we led with the pack-shot to ensure that the brand and product was communicated instantly. Then we experimented with stacking scenes to communicate more, faster. We laid typography over key moments so as not to be reliant on audio, and we cropped into elements to add intensity. These changes, combined with a faster pace to the edit, brought significantly greater engagement and view completion rate.


Above: Frames from Tostitos social edit taken from a TVC from another territory

But why stop there? The potential is there to start a trend to revive retro adverts for a new generation. Imagine your favourite ad from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s optimised for the vertical video generation. Sure, you might have to adjust the narrative, and tracing royalties could be challenging, but I could see followers of your brand loving the result.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to hold the attention for 10 seconds or 60 minutes, the important thing is that vertical is here to stay, and we need to adapt to seize the opportunity.