We Accept Defeat: How to Gear Your Next Event Around Your Audience’s Vertical Videos

According to FBI estimates and the Netflix series Mindhunter, there are at any given time, around 50 active serial killers operating in the United States.   According to my estimates, there are at any given time, thousands upon thousands of monsters uploading vertically oriented phone videos to social media platforms.  Now, I’m not trying to conflate these two demographics simply by invoking them back-to-back (that’s not true, that’s exactly what I’m doing). I’m trying to make an edgy opening hook here to remind you that are plenty of confounding realities we all have to come to terms with as members of a society and unfortunately vertical videos, among other things, are part of our modern social fabric.  

Admittedly, that started off pretty dark so let’s bring it back around.  Look, it doesn’t have to be all bad.  What if you could account for this at your next corporate event and then maybe it’ll be better?  I guess?  Here’s what we think.

First of all, we found this amazing series of studies by Buffer on how social media users engage different video formats. If you hail from one of our agency clients, PR firms, or ad shops, you should NOT miss the insights here- you can view the whole thing here.  In their case they studied the differences in views and shares between standard landscape videos and “square” videos (vertical videos with bars on the top and bottom).  

There is a lot to digest from that link but here are the main takeaways:

92% of all Facebook users in this study accessed content primarily via a mobile device, so when you’re planning an event with the expectation people will capture and share content, plan for that content to be viewed on a phone or tablet.

Mobile users resoundingly preferred “square” videos – so much so that on average “square” videos received 30-35% more views and an 80-100% increase in engagement against landscape videos that featured the exact same content.

It’s tough to argue with that.

In some ways this makes sense though.  When you look at a vertical video as opposed to a landscape video on your phone you’re actually utilizing 78% more space on your screen.  Now that is A LOT of extra room for content to be displayed and shared.

@subsign at medium.com

With that in mind, there are actually some new technologies that accommodate both landscape and vertical video displays, check this out:

“More and more of our shared content is vertical (not necessarily a good thing), which makes our horizontal main screens ill-suited for viewing it. Samsung aims to fix this with the Sero. This 43-inch QLED display sits on a floor stand that allows it to rotate from horizontal to vertical as needed.”

See, Samsung gets it.  A few of these babies rotating around to display information or stream uploaded vertical content gives you the best of both worlds.  Your audience can capture the most relevant information possible in frame as needed.  Keep these in mind when you’re planning your next event.

I’m going to leave you with a final thought.  I’ve heard this urban legend attributed to both Disneyland and several University of California campuses but the underlying premise is relevant.  According to legend, either a very clever architect or a Disney Imagineer neglected to construct sidewalks before opening a space to the public.  Why?  They instead watched how people moved from place to place and THEN built walkways to accommodate the natural flow of their audience.  Simple, effective, brilliant.

Our consumers want flow, not obstacles.  They’d like to take the most efficient path to sharing or consuming content.  Personal aesthetic aside, we need to accept the way our consumers want to engage content and change everything from poster orientation and event staging to marketing for the best results.

It should be said that any ambitious and enterprising event planners (oh, Decibel Management, for example) will understand how consumers want to engage and share content and are ready address these circumstances of engagement at your next corporate event.  Reach out and get your vertically oriented event goals moving today!


Samsung Sero Pivoting TV

YouTube now properly displays vertical videos on iOS

Square vs. Landscape Video – $1.5K Worth of Experiments: Here’s How They Compare

David Sonntag
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