Commentary

Meeker Deck 2015: Time To Change Orientation

The Meeker deck is here! The Meeker deck is here! Coming in at a relatively svelte 197 slides, the annual review of digital trends by Kleiner Perkins analyst and Internet oracle Mary Meeker landed yesterday at the Code Conference. Savor the full slide pile here.

Some of her relentless themes are arguable, of course. That damned slide that compare time spent with media to ad spend probably does more harm than good to intelligent discourse about how media is bought, for instance. For the record, mobilistas can take note that this year she sees slowing but substantial growth for mobile advertising, with 8% of ad spend going to mobile in the U.S., while the platform garners 24% of our attention. She sees this as a $25 billion gap. But these channels are not equal in impact and, and…oh, forget it. We all know why this is wrong-headed thinking about media spend.

On the other hand, I am heartened to see Meeker call out for praise emerging native mobile ad formats. As an important new trend, she cites items like the Pinterest Cinematic Pin, the five-second spot on video app Vessel, Facebook’s Carousel ad units and Google’s local inventory units in search results. She is right to do this, and we can only hope more of the mobile industry follows suit. As I whined in my last  Mobile Insider column, mobile is at serious risk of ruining the experience for users by porting the crap-vertising that made the Web unbearable. These mobile native ads blend well with the circumstances of use, and they are both fast and fun to use.

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But Meeker was especially insightful when noting another important mobile native trend: the vertical video format. One of her most fascinating slides involved how the time spent viewing content, including video, in a vertical format has grown from .4 hours a day in 2010 to 2.8 hours a day in 2015: 29% of media viewing.

This shift is important to media makers of all kinds. The vertical format changes the way we think about the simulated sight of video. Rather than orient perspective by the horizon line, it tends to fit the human face and full body figure. It is closer to the portraiture tradition in painting than it is to TV and film. 

And it matters. According to metrics cited by Meeker in the presentation, video ads in native vertical format on Snapchat were viewed to completion at nine times the rate of horizontal video ads.

Shift your point of view. Embrace the possibilities.

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