Vertical Vs. Landscape Video on IGTV: A Debate

Posted at 14th-Jun-2019 in Uncategorized | Leave a reply

IGTV has taken on a new design that now allows you to upload videos in landscape format. In the app’s original launch, videos have only been visible in vertical position, which made sense, considering it’s best practice status for engagement. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’d like to hold a debate… with myself. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of both horizontal and vertical video on IGTV, and how this update in social media could be both beneficial and disadvantageous.

If you’re like me, you commonly hold your phone vertically. This is, of course, assuming you own a smartphone. So naturally, you consume your content in the same position. For content creators and businesses alike, it would be best to take advantage of all the possible real estate on the consumers screen. Thus, creating content in vertical format. It allows the piece to hold almost all of the screens view on most phones, making no room for distraction of other content. The user would be most influenced to pause in their scroll and observe the piece of content. This format sounds ideal, but what limitations do vertical videos hold?

The number one answer? Production value. Often times, tv spots can’t simply be cropped in order to fit vertical frame, as much of the set is distorted, cut out, or appears limited in value. So producers reshoot for social, taking up time and more importantly, money. On a smaller scale, content creators may feel a limitation in creativity. A problem that reportedly influenced the switch to allow landscape videos on the platform. So how did IGTV combat the loss of real estate that comes with horizontal frames?

IGTV users can turn their phones sideways to view the piece of content in full-screen. This new flexibility certainly makes room for more creative content, and could possibly drive more creators to the platform. But, we are debating here. And if I’m thinking strategically, I might have to play devil’s advocate and say this may not prove the same engagement as vertical frame.

The first obvious reason is because now, IGTV will have to train users to turn their phone, a move not often made for quick consumption. Personally, if I’m turning my phone for landscape view, I’m committing to whatever piece of content I’m about to watch. And it has to be at LEAST 10-15 minutes in length. It’s just a habit. Holding my phone vertically is more comfortable. It’s the position that works best when I’m moving, and it allows for me to feel more confident to pause the piece of content and come back to it again when I’m stationary. I’m less likely to go back and find the smaller piece of landscape content, and reopen it in horizontal frame.

But hey, that’s just me. Although I’m sure that content creators will enjoy the update, I’m interested to see what this could provide in strategic planning for marketers. Will we defy best practices to stay ahead of the curve? Or will this innovation prove useful only for entertainment? And will that change the purpose of the IGTV platform all together? The debate may never end.

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