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The future is vertical – by Euronews’ Guillaume Canard-Duchêne

Guillaume Canard-Duchêne, vice president of sales for international markets at Euronews, talks about why the France-based media house is exploring new formats for its programming, moving beyond widescreen

Guillaume Canard-Duchêne, Vice President of Sales for International Markets at Euronews, talks about why the news media giant is exploring new formats for its programming, moving beyond widescreen to grow its 145 million strong monthly audience base.

Today, around 6.65 billion people – 84 per cent of the world’s population – are connected to a staggering 15 billion mobile devices, and more than 54 per cent of internet traffic is driven by mobile phones. 

That percentage is typically higher in emerging nations as people leapfrog desktop and laptop tech and use mobiles as their primary source of connectivity. As a European brand, it’s interesting for us to look at these figures, because it’s not just a market thing, it’s also an age thing. It’s how younger populations in our European markets consume their news and lifestyle content. 

“Why does vertical content matter? Because this format takes up 78% more space on someone’s phone than a widescreen video.”

As a media company that was born as a television channel 30 years ago and has since become a multi-platform broadcaster, how and where people view our content matters to us. The fact that more and more of what we create is being consumed either through our app, digital channels or social is not only changing the way we think about our programming, but also creating extra layers of opportunities for our commercial partners. And those partners are increasingly prioritising digital – while our overall advertising revenues grew by 45 per cent year-on-year in 2021, digital advertising was up by 72 per cent.

Thinking mobile-first is central to creating content that fits the preferences of our Millennials and Gen Z audiences, rather than expecting them to adapt to us. So while we still create the majority of our programmes in the more traditional 16:9 formats that work best for TVs and laptops, we’re now branching out into vertical content, as with our Creators series launched earlier this year. Part of our Euronews Culture digital platform, the show features portrayals of the craftsmanship of some of Europe’s top designers, artisans, performers and producers. The series is shot in 9:16, runs at 3-6 minutes and is designed for Instagram first.

 Why does vertical matter? Because this format takes up 78 per cent more space on someone’s phone than a widescreen video. And given that 70 per cent of millennials never take the time to flip their phone to watch widescreen content – and that number is only going to increase among Gen Zs and the generations to follow – it means people simply see more of your story. This is why it’s no huge surprise that we’re continuing to see the rise and rise of vertical viewing, with an expected 50 per cent increase in the format this year to reach a total of 2 billion vertical video uploads by the end of 2022 according to Reel In Reel. 

Facebook and Instagram data show that vertical content gets 6 per cent better views than square videos, with 187 per cent more people watching at least half of a video. And while that 6 per cent better views figure may not seem so impressive, it’s worth mentioning that that’s on top of square videos outperforming widescreen, generating 30-35 per cent more views and 80-100 per cent more engagement. Vertical is clearly the preferred format for engagement and retention. This data coupled with the performance data we track at Euronews also provides us valuable information to create ever more engaging content with our commercial partners. 

While we don’t expect to switch all of our content to the format any time soon – our audiences want and deserve a choice that works for them – it’s fair to say that there’s a solid argument that the future for broadcasters – and therefore for advertisers – may well be vertical.