Last Thursday Snapchat debuted a self-service ad buying platform that allows advertisers to purchase Snapchat’s vertical video Snap Ads.  What I found to be interesting about this announcement was the relative lack of fanfare it received given the fact that it married mass marketing (self-serve) with what had been, until fairly recently, a regularly bashed ad format (vertical video).  It wasn’t that long ago that vertical video was perceived by advertisers as an outlier presenting production and user-experience challenges, and destined to succeed in only a handful of streaming and social platforms.  Snapchat’s announcement seems to indicate that these so-called challenges are no more.  And to take it one step further, I’d suggest that the announcement means that vertical video has gone mainstream. After all, a self-service system must be recognition of rising market demand and advertiser acceptance of vertical video as a viable format that goes beyond streaming or social platforms.

Vertical video was launched the day consumers started shooting video with their mobile phones.  The most accessible distribution channel for those videos was social platforms that typically forced content into a horizontal player. The immediate result was a lousy user-experience – and launched a plethora of memes.

However, many social platforms quickly recognized the flaw in placing vertically shot video in a horizontal player and developed support for vertical playback.  Today many sites adjust to video orientation allowing those shot vertically to play vertically – which makes a lot of sense given the rapid adoption by consumers of mobile as their preferred video viewing platform and the fact that few consumers rotate their mobile device out of portrait mode.  This broader supply base now means that advertisers are no longer “vertically challenged” when it comes to mobile video advertising and can move outside the walled gardens of streaming and social platforms – and push their vertical video, whether branded content or advertising, across the open web.

This new vertical video reality is great for advertisers – and I must say, great for RhythmOne.  More than a year ago we launched our video canvas ad unit that leverages the same creative asset across devices – regardless of device orientation. This forward-thinking ad unit allows better utility and distribution for advertisers and their content – and a better user experience for the consumer.  Our experience over the past 18 months has been that vertical video delivers higher user interaction rates compared to other components of the campaign.  All-in, vertical video has proven its value with more creative opportunity, greater distribution, better consumer experience, and most importantly better performance.

Check out an example of our video canvas unit here and explore our entire creative gallery for other high engagement video and display formats.