Use square and vertical video to engage mobile customers

More than 70% of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, according to 2018 Google data. To better engage these viewers, it's best to create a variety of different video creatives -- including square and vertical videos -- for your Universal App and video campaigns.

Today's mobile video experience

The video player on the YouTube app automatically adjusts to the dimensions of your video. For example, if you want to show a vertical video (such as a 9:16 aspect ratio), your vertical video will appear larger than a landscape video, and will cover 75% of the screen, with organic content beneath the video. If a user then clicks the fullscreen button, the video will cover 100% of the screen if the device is held in portrait mode.

Benefits of square and vertical video

  • More creative asset variety.
  • When viewers hold their phones in portrait mode, vertical video (skinny and tall video) provides advertisers with a larger canvas to deliver their product's message.
  • Vertical videos fit the natural intent of the user to watch the video in a vertical mode.

Best practice: Diversify your video creatives

If you want your video ads to appear optimally across different devices, it's recommended to use different video ratios for video and Universal App campaigns:

  • Landscape: 16:9
  • Either a vertical 9:16 or square 1:1, or both.

Important: Aspect ratios between these settings are allowed; on the YouTube app, the video player will automatically adjust to ratios between 16:9 and 9:16.

Tip: Upload ads with different messages

For both Universal App and video campaigns, upload different versions of multiple videos across the recommended ratios. For example, you might upload multiple videos of each type (vertical, square, and landscape), with each video having a different message. Run these assets in the same video or Universal App campaign.

For video campaigns, make sure your ad rotation is set to "Optimize," so your campaign will choose the best ads to serve, taking into account your ad inventory and different device types. For Universal App campaigns, ad rotation is automatically optimized.

Optimize your vertical video

The video player on the YouTube app will automatically adapt video dimensions to the player, whether your video is square, vertical, or landscape.

Tip: Avoid core messaging in the top 10% and bottom 25% of the video

To help your customers see more of your message in a vertical video, it's recommended that you avoid core messaging in the top 10% and bottom 25% of the video, as these are the areas most frequently cropped. (See "How different videos appear on the YouTube app" below). This advice applies to both video campaigns and Universal App campaigns.

How different videos appear on the YouTube app

Vertical video on initial video impression

The image below shows how a vertical video appears in various video player modes.

vertical video YouTube app

At right: How a vertical video appears if the viewer engages fullscreen mode.
At center: The portion of a 9:16 vertical video that is cropped for the initial ad impression.
At left: How the video ad appears upon ad impression.

Square video on initial video impression

The image below shows how a square video appears in different video player modes.

square video YouTube app

At right: How a square video appears when the user engages fullscreen mode.
At center: Cropping behavior (none).
At left: How the video ad appears upon ad impression.

Viewer engagement with the YouTube app

For both square and vertical video, when the user interacts with the YouTube app, such as by scrolling through related content under the video, the video player can compress up to a 16:9 aspect ratio. This will crop the displayed video at the bottom and top, and allows the user to interact with the content they chose below.

mobile video YouTube app

Review your performance

Once you have square and vertical videos, you should review your ad performance, bids, budgets and inventory to maximize performance.

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