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The impact of smartphones has been absolutely monumental, and mobile technology is now a fixture in every High Street in the Western world. With the technology increasingly popular in developing economies, and evidence pointing to the widespread adoption of mobile phones even in the third world, the relentless march of the smartphone shows no signs of abating.

But this monumentally successful niche - which is now worth $150 billion per annum, just in terms of the physical handsets sold - has also had unintended consequences. One of these is that the natural way that videos are shot has changed significantly. Until very recently, pretty much every screen in the world was rectangular with a roughly 4:3 aspect. Of course, this physical shape remains incredibly common in display panels all over the world, but not in smartphones.

Portrait Video Trend

This has led to a situation in which consumers no longer necessarily favour the traditional format for video. Portrait video has become a commonly used filming mode, as advertisers, marketers and video makers attempt to produce content that suits the growing smartphone and tablet niche.

However, although this may be logical from the producers’ point-of-view, it doesn’t necessarily meet with universal approval. Simply Googling “portrait video” will reveal a wide range of blogs devoted to the subject of why it is such a pain in the proverbial. Yet despite the distaste that portrait video attracts sometimes, the format is very much here to stay for the foreseeable future.

NASA recently conducted a study on human fields of vision, and came up with some very interesting and enlightening results. According to the study carried out by the space investigating organisation, human vision will naturally crop video to around a 16:10 aspect ratio. Of course, this is an extremely commonly used widescreen format, and we can now perhaps understand why this has become a standard for film and video all over the world. Intrinsically, it is natural for us to view video in this format.

However, just because our eyes favour it and many people desire it, does not mean that video will continue to be shot in this format as a matter of course. The fact is that portrait video is here to stay due to basic economics, and one only needs to examine a few statistics related to this subject in order to understand why.

Media Consumption Evolution

Media consumption is already shifting towards mobile mediums, but this process will only exacerbate in the future. YouTube now reports that more than half of its visitors are utilising mobile phones, while Facebook believes that 65% of that video views on its website are conducted via mobile devices. When huge players in the video marketplace both report these trends, it is clear that video producers are going to sit up and pay attention.

Additionally, this is only really the beginning of this process. Mobile devices are proliferating in the Western world, and the number of people that own them in developing economies and the Third World will rise rapidly in the coming years and decades. The overwhelming likelihood is that the existing figures regarding YouTube and Facebook will only escalate in the future, and this will provide a further incentive for people to film in the portrait format.

As if to confirm this assertion, Ooyala, a video analytics company, stated in a recent report that mobile video growth has increased by 400 percent in just two years. This is an unprecedented level of growth, but when one examines the underlying characteristics of the marketplace, this figure is perhaps not surprising.

Advanced mobile technology, increased Internet connection speeds, and sophisticated technology related to 4G networks is ensuring that people are able to gain access to increasingly absorbing mobile content. It is often taken for granted quite how quickly this has developed, with the original iPhone having only been released in 2007, just eight years ago. At that time, the sort of mobile content that we take for granted today was almost unmaginable, so one can imagine how much the genre will evolve during the next eight years.

Equally, it was difficult to predict that the horizontal, widescreen experience would almost become a marginal niche. But smartphones are rapidly outgrowing the desktop market, and all available data suggests that this will expand even further in the future.

Digital Marketing Takeaways

There is quite a simple lesson to take away from this. All digital marketers and destinations that are intending to produce video should pay particular heed this trend. Increasingly, in the present as well as the future, it will be necessary to particularly prioritise portrait video aimed at a mobile marketplace.

Not only does this make common sense for both travel-related companies and destinations, but it can also be commercially advantageous. The commercial opportunities provided by mobile platforms have been extensively documented by the Digital Tourism Think Tank previously, and extensive evidence also exists which points to the importance of mobile devices to contemporary travellers and tourists. This should be reflected in digital marketers and destinations' video producing policies going forward.

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