Digital Signage and Vertically Oriented Content

Digital signage is mostly a television-based affair to date, which means by default it’s horizontally oriented. But since whoever is running the digital signage is the one dictating the content, there’s nothing wrong with turning the displays on their side, right? Perhaps, but only if you’re prepared for the work and cost involved.

The Horizontal Advantage

Video has long, long been a horizontal format. From the earliest experiments with moving film, to the latest viral videos, it’s all been shot and edited to our common expectation that the frame is wider than it is tall. That’s not about to change. Turning a TV sideways is prohibiting you from using the estimated 300 hours of YouTube content uploaded every minute.

The biggest advantage of the horizontal format is that it’s cheaper, end-to-end. Source material is shot horizontally, software and encoding formats are built to make horizontal videos. Even if you’re planning on doing everything in house, you can’t just make a trip to a stock footage site and buy a nice background or filler without editing it for your vertical use.

The Vertical Advantage

But the horizontal advantage is dissipating, thanks to mobile phones. Every phone defaults to a portrait mode orientation, simply because that’s how people most often interact with their phones. So when Audi released a mobile ad campaign in August 2015 with a vertical video, they reported a 80% higher video completion rate over the horizontal standard. Strong evidence to consider vertical video content, at least in a mobile context.

Certain source content also translates better to a vertical display. Clothing stores come to mind, since an entire outfit fits comfortably inside a vertical column.

…And the Content Advantage

Ultimately, content is king, and where you’re getting your content from is going to dictate what your options are. But if any amount of your content is coming from an outside source – stock sites, YouTube, 3rd party ads, whatever – a vertically oriented display is going to close a lot of doors on you.

Header photo taken by OnSign TV

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