The digital world is a patchwork of tech companies vying for your attention. Giants like Meta and Google are constantly adapting to stay on top of the proverbial ladder, and over the past decade, no application has been able to challenge them. If a new, exciting platform started to gain popularity, a larger company would buy them out (Meta with Instagram/WhatsApp and Google with YouTube) or steal their functionalities to be used in their own app (remember when Story features could only be found on Snapchat?).
For years, tech giants raked in hundreds of millions in ad revenue without genuine competition. Enter: TikTok, a platform focused on video.
Put simply, it’s video made for smartphones. Historically, widescreen formats on TV sets and in movie theaters have dominated the video scene. The aspect ratio most commonly associated with the widescreen format is 16:9 (1.85:1 for US cinema releases). The format made sense when most homes had a desktop computer or laptop with a large, widescreen monitor.
In contrast, vertical video is associated with a 9:16 aspect ratio. This format makes video easier to watch when on the go, as it will fill the entire screen on a mobile device when held naturally.
In 2012, over 89% of all web traffic came through desktops. Now, that number has fallen to around 40%. Mobile phone usage is now the dominant force behind most web traffic. That change in consumer habits is the most significant reason for the shift away from standard video aspect ratios and the rise of TikTok.
Despite this seismic shift in web traffic habits, social media platforms such as Meta and YouTube did little to change. Most of the content created and algorithmically boosted on these platforms were static text/photos or videos shot for widescreen viewing. These platforms didn’t have to change, so they didn’t.
However, in 2020 a new player became a fixture in the zeitgeist. TikTok, previously an app for teens to lipsync and dance to, exploded past 600 million users at a rate only matched by Facebook in the mid-2000s.
Many factors contribute to this sudden rise in active users. The focus of vertical video is undoubtedly one of the most important. A predominantly younger audience, who spends most of their time on mobile devices, found and clung to an app that prioritizes content created for their preferred viewing habits.
Another factor leading to TikTok’s surge in growth is the platform itself. It is incredibly addictive and as soon as the app opens, you are greeted immediately with video content in an intuitive-to-use feed that can scroll for infinity.
Over the years, social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have become cluttered with random features and pages that are rarely used by the majority of the public. TikTok was positioned well to be an anti-social-media-platform by being simple, easy to use and geared toward younger demographics.
While TikTok in 2023 is a driving factor for countless marketing campaigns and activations, many other platforms have noted the app’s success and hope to emulate it. This is great for companies looking to boost their awareness and brand reach.
With Instagram rolling out Reels in August of 2020 and YouTube with Shorts in July of 2021, there are now ways to distribute vertical content outside of TikTok. For companies, this allows for a multi-channel strategy where vertical videos can be repurposed across multiple platforms.
The vertical video revolution has also ignited the popularity of user-generated content (UGC). In the past, companies would spend a lot of money and time to create polished and professional visual content for social media. Now, a teenager with a smartphone and a fun concept can exponentially drive viewership and engagement to levels corporate content never could.
As a business owner or marketing professional, staying up-to-date on changing consumer habits and interests is imperative. The rise of vertical video presents challenges, but with these challenges comes even more opportunity!
Video production companies, like Frozen Fire, are well positioned to assist companies with their vertical video content. Frozen Fire understands how to create content that feels like it was made by your friend. Frozen Fire’s planning process means multiple videos can be shot in one day, leading to more content that will fuel your company’s online growth.
Are you looking for great examples? The Frozen Fire YouTube page has a fantastic selection of Shorts content. Take a look for inspiration, or reach out to Frozen Fire to handle all your production needs.
Want to know more about video pricing. Check out our article here.