It’s Hip To Be Square… but is it really?!

Common Thread Collective

by Common Thread Collective Collaborator

Apr. 02 2019

I realize that some of you young millennials and Gen Z’s don’t have any idea of what my title is referring to (I can thank my Mom for doing a dance to this song at a work talent show 25+ years ago and getting it all caught on camera), but let’s face it, being square on Facebook/Instagram platform is sooooo 2018. Get with the times people! And let me help you.


Here at CTC we find that ‘what’s working’ in digital advertising is constantly changing. First, video ads were all in 16:9 format and single images were held to a very strict 1200x628 pixels (unless you were Vince and you learned how to get hacky with it). THEN, the new hotness was that if you wanted to get a higher CTR your videos needed to be 1:1 (sorry Content team, we all know 16:9 is more beautiful). Lo and behold… times are a changin’ yet again. We hate to keep having to do this to you, but the new new is VERTICAL! (pssst. This is coming straight from Facebook, so you might want to pay attention).


We all know that most of the content we consume is done so on our mobile devices. Can you disagree? (If you answered yes to that question you’re probably not being fully honest with yourself. I know, I tell my husband that I don’t have a phone addiction too). Let me introduce you to something we like to call “Mobile First Creative”.


According to the book of your face, “Mobile First Creative is defined as video that is either 15 seconds or less in any dimension or video longer than 15 seconds whose height is longer than its width.”


What the what?!?! The designers here all had to read that several times in a row to try to make sense of it. It’s a mouthful and a weird sentence, so let me try to explain it in Nana terms (if you’re just meeting me… Hi, my name is Adriana, but everyone calls me Nana).


As designers, we LITERALLY, have 3 seconds or less to catch our audiences’ attention. That’s a lot of pressure if you ask me!



But this is how we (typically) achieve that daunting task:

  • Show the product right away
  • Be clear
  • Be direct


One great way to graphically do this is to create a short video from a static image. Whether this be creating a cinemagraph, or having some subtle, quick creative copy transitions, having movement to catch the viewer's eye is key. We call this thumb stopping material. Doing this in a vertical format gives you more real estate to do so. Here are some stats for ya:


  • 79% of novice vertical video consumers agreed that the format is more engaging, and said they would choose the vertical format in most cases.
  • 15 second videos that are less than 15 seconds match users attention spans and are better able to communicate messaging which leads to improved performance outcomes.
  • 7 of 10 tests showed that vertical video ads drove and incremental increase in brand lift, including 3-to-9 point increase in ad recall.


If you need help figuring out the pixel count on all of these new options, we created this handy guide for you:


One thing to keep in mind is that we find the best results when doing vertical VIDEO. When trying the vertical method with static images, we have found that some formats get cut off… so beware of that and always be sure to check before launching. Here is a guide to the various placements across the different formats:



Bottom line, “Mobile First Creative capitalizes on a mobile screen by maximizing the real estate and communicating key messages quickly.” I stole that one from Facebook and I couldn’t have said it better myself! I want it to be clear that I’m not saying to never use 1:1 ever again, but vertical is the way of the future (until they find something else that works better). Test, test, test and never stop finding a way to improve your performance!

Common Thread Collective

Common Thread Collective is the leading source of strategy and insight serving DTC ecommerce businesses. From agency services to educational resources for eccomerce leaders and marketers, CTC is committed to helping you do your job better.

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