Why stories are powerful

Aurora Grønningen
October 5, 2021

Thanks to the social media boom and smartphones, the usage of vertical videos and stories has increased rapidly the past few years. Smartphone users have gotten lazier, and they want what is easiest for them.

What is a story?

A story is a vertical video in a 9:16 format that fully expands your smartphone screen. Snapchat, Instagram and Gobi Stories are examples of vertical videos. Story technology also provides easy navigation and you can “tap” through the short videos to easily find what you´re looking for. Sometimes a vertical video can be flipped horizontal, but a horizontal video can rarely be flipped to a vertical without getting the black frame around the video.

Vertical is the most natural way to hold your phone

The design of modern smartphones follows the tradition from phones from the early decades where the device would be held vertically so that the user could listen and speak with minimal distractions. Even in 2021, there is no change.

A report from MOVR Mobile shows that smartphone users hold their phones vertically about 94% of the time. Since users usually hold their phone vertically, it makes sense that they would play videos the same way. A study by MediaBrix in 2016  found that 90% of IOS apps had a fixed vertical orientation so it makes it impossible to tilt the phone for a horizontal view. If you own an iPhone you probably have the vertical view locked as well. The study also showed that vertical video ads were completed 90% of the time, but those who watched the ad horizontally only completed about 14% of the time. So the fact that we can physically flip our phone horizontally doesn't mean we will do it. Smartphone users are lazy in their digital consumer experience and making the small move to tilt your phone may not be worth it while scrolling through a website.

Still not convinced? Let's take a look at Snapchat, who you might say kickstarted the vertical video conversion in social media. Snapchat reported in a pitch from 2015 that a 9:16 format vertical video ad rates were 9 times higher than horizontal ads. Their internal research also showed that vertical video ads have 2 times higher visual attention versus comparable platforms.

Why stories matters

  • Smartphone users hold their phone vertically
  • It grabs visitors attention back when skipping forward in the video
  • Mobile traffic is rapidly increasing
  • Video increases engagement
  • It has no impact on page loading
  • You can make content that your customers actually consume
  • Lower production costs

Why should your website use stories?

It is unlikely we will see horizontally-oriented mobile phones in the near future. Storytelling and vertical videos are here to stay, and the mindset of horizontal videos will be left in 2021. For 2022 we are anticipating that the use of vertical videos will expand furthermore as more content creators and viewers embrace it.