Pros And Cons Of Vertical vs Horizontal Video For YouTube And Vimeo

vertical vs horizontal video pros cons youtube and vimeo videos

With mobile device usage continuing to rise, vertical video is growing in popularity - especially on video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Vertical videos take up more real estate on mobile screens and offer a more natural viewing experience for users. This has led many brands to create vertical ads optimized for mobile. However, horizontal video still remains the preferred format for more cinematic, professional video productions. Many YouTube video creation service opts for horizontal formats to establish scenes and include multiple elements in the frame. The horizontal video also allows for more flexibility in repurposing content across platforms. When evaluating Vimeo vs YouTube for business, brands must consider the pros and cons of both vertical and horizontal video formats. This article will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each style to help determine the best approach based on audience, goals, and overall video strategy. 

Pros Of Vertical Video 

As mobile usage continues to dominate, vertical video provides a more natural viewing experience for users on smartphones and tablets. The vertical video takes up the entirety of the mobile screen, creating more immersive viewing without awkward black bars on the sides. This makes vertical the ideal format for brands looking to maximize mobile ad real estate. 

Vertical video also simplifies the production process. Most mobile devices are held vertically, making it easier for brands and creators to film compelling footage optimized for platforms like YouTube, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. The vertical orientation focuses on a central subject or person, lending itself well to talking heads, product demos, and other mobile-first content. 

Additionally, vertical video can work brilliantly when targeted to a mobile audience. Mobile users are accustomed to vertical content and orientations, so vertical ads don’t feel disruptive on platforms where they appear. Vertical video ads on social platforms tend to garner higher engagement and completion rates compared to landscape videos. 

Brands like Samsung, Spotify, and Netflix have successfully incorporated vertical video ads into their mobile marketing. A Spotify vertical video campaign focusing on its mobile app saw a 19% increase in app installs among users exposed to the ads. Meanwhile, Samsung’s vertical ads for its Galaxy S23 emphasized the phone’s vertical shooting capabilities and signature vertical enroll camera design. 

In contexts where a brand’s primary audience skews mobile or where video goals center on mobile conversion, the case for vertical video is strong. This format provides optimized viewing and seamless mobile integration when strategically targeted. 

Cons Of Vertical Video 

While vertical video excels on mobile, it can falter when translated horizontally for desktop and larger screens. The top and bottom black bars can create awkward negative space or a scrunched appearance when viewed horizontally. This makes vertical video less immersive on wider landscapes, whereas horizontal video can utilize the full screen. 

The narrower vertical frame also limits the number of visual elements that can be included. It can be harder to establish scenes and settings properly in vertical videos compared to horizontal, especially when translating to television or projecting for events. Vertical vs horizontal offers less flexibility for multiple subjects on camera or choreographing movement. 

Additionally, some graphics and text formatted for mobile vertical can become illegible or truncated on desktop. Mobile devices allow for more scrolling, whereas desktop viewers expect key information to be immediately visible. Brands repurposing mobile vertical videos may need to reformat or redesign assets for horizontal. For example, Snapchat’s quirky vertical videos can feel disjointed and cramped when replayed in horizontal orientations. Similarly, Instagram’s Stories were originally vertical-only before the platform introduced pinch-to-zoom for horizontal, to mixed user reactions. In professional video production contexts favoring wide landscape cinematography, vertical can seem amateurish. While vertical excels for standalone mobile, brands may want to reconsider videos meant to live beyond mobile feeds in a horizontal digital landscape. 

Pros Of Horizontal Video 

The horizontal video provides a cinematic, professional appearance optimized for desktops, laptops, and television screens. The wide landscape format creates an immersive viewing experience that utilizes maximum digital real estate. Horizontal orientations feel familiar on sites like YouTube, where most high-end YouTube video creation service productions are horizontal. 

The wider frame also enables more visual components within a shot. Horizontal video can better establish settings and contextualize scenes than vertical formats. There is greater flexibility to include multiple subjects on-screen or choreograph dynamic movements and actions. The landscape layout similarly accommodates detailed graphics, text, data visualizations, and other visual elements that may feel cramped vertically. 

Brands can repurpose horizontal videos more seamlessly across platforms like YouTube, Instagram feed, websites, and television. Horizontal videos can be cropped vertically if needed for mobile. The opposite is more difficult, with the vertical feeling disjointed and expanded horizontally. This makes horizontal a safer bet for versatility across digital channels and screens. 

From Hollywood movies to YouTube tutorials, horizontal video dominates both professional productions and user-generated content. Decades of horizontal video consumption make the format feel intuitive and natural to audiences. While vertical gains traction in mobile, horizontal provides a recognizable viewing layout for those seeking polished, cinematic productions. 

Cons Of Horizontal Video 

The widescreen horizontal format that shines on the desktop can become a liability on mobile. Horizontal videos appear shrunken on smartphones, with thick black bars along the top and bottom. This wastes valuable vertical real estate and creates awkward negative space on mobile feeds. 

The broad landscape frame is also less conducive for shooting natively on phones and tablets. Most mobile cameras capture in vertical orientations, making horizontal formats harder to film without professional equipment. The elongated horizontal style simply feels less natural for vertical mobile scrolling. 

When condensing horizontal videos into narrow mobile widths, there is a greater risk of cutting out important visuals from the original view. Complex data visualizations or detailed graphics can lose legibility when squashed horizontally on mobiles. 

Some brands have stumbled upon translating successful desktop and TV video ads to mobile. For example, State Farm’s iconic “Jake From State Farm” commercials lost impact when horizontally cropped for mobile. The character’s signature khakis were no longer visible, causing confusion. 

While the horizontal video plays to its strengths on wider screens, the mobile experience suffers without reformatting. In a mobile-first era, horizontal creative needs to be designed with vertical in mind from the start. 


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to vertical versus horizontal video. Leading Wisconsin production houses optimize for each platform, testing formats to maximize engagement. Consider your core audience, placement, and campaign goals when choosing orientation. Both layouts have distinct strengths for today’s multi-device landscape.

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