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Sound and vision: Facebook now displays vertical videos on mobile News Feed

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Video on Facebook is changing. Having already started testing autoplaying clips with sound, the social network is now supporting vertical videos on its mobile News Feed. After ignoring the format for so long, it seems Facebook has finally realized the potential of the rectangular aspect ratio.

In the past, Facebook would crop vertical videos on mobile into squares, allowing users to click through to the original format. The aspect ratio itself, which is predominantly associated with mobile, was introduced to Facebook just over a year ago.

Facebook has confirmed that vertical videos are now appearing as they were intended on News Feeds in a (slightly cropped) 2:3 aspect ratio, compared to the 1:1 aspect ratio it previously used. The change will apply to iOS and Android devices for all forms of vertical media, including ads and Live broadcasts.

“We know that people enjoy more immersive experiences on Facebook, so we’re starting to display a larger portion of each vertical video in News Feed on mobile,” a Facebook spokesperson revealed to Marketing Land in an email.

Facebook also confirmed that, in testing out the new format, more people engaged with vertical videos for longer periods of time, and with the sound on.

As we’ve witnessed in the past, content with high engagement rates is ranked higher by Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. This could mean that you’re about to see more vertical videos on your personal News Feed. However, Facebook has also been known to modify the algorithm to give preference to a particular type of content it wishes to promote, such as Live video.

Online, vertical video is well on its way to becoming the dominant format. Last year alone, the amount of vertical videos uploaded to YouTube increased by 50 percent, according to a report in The New York Times. And let’s not forget a little-known app called Snapchat, which has championed the format to the extent that it only displays vertical ads on its app. This in turn has encouraged marketers to adopt the aspect ratio. Last time we checked, 10 billion people were watching Snapchat’s exclusively vertical videos every day.

With over 1 billion daily active mobile users, Facebook has been left with no choice but to embrace tall videos. It may have taken its time to adapt, but it seems that the social network has finally realized that it’s not hip to be square.

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