Facebook will now more completely display a vertically-formatted video in the news feeds of iOS and Android users, Marketing Land reported. Instead of cropping them into squares (1:1), vertical videos will appear in a 2:3 ratio. The update applies to uploaded videos, ads and live broadcasts.
According to Facebook, the change is what users want. “We know that people enjoy more immersive experiences on Facebook, so we’re starting to display a larger portion of each vertical video in News Feed on mobile,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email to Marketing Land.
Further support of vertical video also aligns with the current desires of advertisers, those who fuel the majority of Facebook’s revenue.
“From a storytelling perspective, this is obviously more exciting,” said Dan Grossman, VP of platform partnerships at VaynerMedia. “If we can take up more of the screen that means you’re less distracted. We can capture more of the viewer’s attention.”
VaynerMedia is already working with some of its clients, including Ruby Tuesday, Mountain Dew, Bud Light and GE, to create new vertical videos for Facebook.
Over the last few years, vertical video has transformed from a faux paus into the norm for recording and consuming video via a smartphone. While its doubtful that just one app could subsequently shift an industry, its true that Snapchat has risen in popularity over this time.
Snapchat, in part, convinced advertisers to embrace vertical. The company claimed that vertical video ads drew nine times more completed views than horizontal ones in its early pitch to publishers back in 2015.
While Facebook initially provided an opportunity for advertisers to repurpose TV ads or those placed on YouTube, Snapchat’s ad offerings were exclusively vertical.
The vertical format was obvious to some advertisers. “No matter how good the creative of a video ad is, consumers won’t engage if the format isn’t convenient and user-first. Watching tiny, cropped video, or having to turn your phone sideways just shows how little attention the ad industry has PAID TO user experience,” Ari Brandt, CEO of digital ad company MediaBrix, wrote in an email.
Facebook did not dismiss vertical. Prior to Thursday’s announcement, it had taken other steps toward supporting the format. For example, the company released Canvas ads, a full-screen ad unit that appeared after users tapped on a traditional-looking post on mobile, in February.
Facebook has been paying attention not only to its users’ behavior but also the steps made by its competitors. Earlier this month, Facebook-owned Instagram released a copycat of Snapchat’s popular Stories feature.
One clear way Facebook has Snapchat beat is in its much larger audience. Snapchat touts 150 million daily active users while Facebook has 1.13 billion daily and 1.71 billion monthly.
“I think it’s very positive to see them to iterate. In the end of the day they have 1.71 billion people using the platform. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to reach a massive amount of people at scale,” said Jonah Goodhart, CEO of Moat, an ad measurement company that works with Facebook and Snapchat.
The update will roll out to Facebook users on iOS and Android in the coming weeks.