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How We Use Vertical Video to Innovate in Formats and Serve Our Audiences Across Three AJ+ Channels

Audience Honor in Vertical Video


Like any new format during the early days, Vertical videos have been criticised for being unattractive and amateurish. AJ+, on the other hand, had a different perspective on vertical videos, and we started experimenting and pushing our creative limits to learn new creative and Editorial workflows and guidelines that helped us produce content that connected and resonated with our audience. 

AJ+ has always been a mobile-first community, so vertical videos naturally motivated our creative and editorial teams to explore several vertical formats to see what best fits the narrative when telling the story yet maintain style and art direction to give the viewers an immersive and engaging experience for our audience. 

Vertical videos on social media are becoming the new normal due to the significant growth in content watched on mobile devices. Consequently, verticality has become more innovative. And in AJ+, innovation is part of our DNA.

AJ+ handles each social platform uniquely for vertical videos; instead of utilising a single video published to all platforms, we restructure and repackage the vertical video to fulfil each platform's user experience and behaviour, yet we stay authentic and creative.

Strategy and Execution

Audiences will only consume content that has a genuine connection with them. This is one of the biggest challenges, and we know vertical videos are distinctive, convenient, and engaging in this regard.

Working in a vertical format is challenging and exciting. A new "school of thinking" has emerged in the process of creating innovative vertical videos. Working with vertical brings a fresh set of problems as well as a new perspective. It's also tricky since there isn't a particular creative challenge to address; instead, it's more of a playground to play in; it challenges us to think outside the box.

Therefore we concentrated on giving our vertical videos two components, creative art direction and human presence. 

Human presence and art direction go hand-in-hand. Crafting a good story requires establishing a tone and mood. We ask ourselves, What's the feel and look we are trying to tell? Is it presenter-led with motion graphics or illustrations? These are challenges when formulating a creative direction to a story in vertical videos.
One of the challenges facing creative direction is that it is impossible to make a single decision and foresee how everyone will react to it. It's a matter of personal preference. Thus, we use a variety of formats, such as illustrations, motion graphics and raw, to support the storytelling and narrative.

"Format the horizontal video to vertical later" this approach is the wrong way to treat vertical videos because converting from horizontal to vertical will lead to time wasted, and it won't fit the platform UX and audience behaviour. We start with storyboarding and filming for vertical from the very beginning to overcome these challenges. 

The objective is to demonstrate how creative and engaging visual storytelling can be when it matches how viewers use the platforms; for instance, When viewing horizontal videos, the audience is often instructed to look from left to right. However, there is no actual horizon in a vertical format since it moves depending on framing. This provides a chance to guide the viewer's eyes by panning up and down and using the vertical space. Understanding the audience's behaviour and respecting the platform's UX is critical in overcoming this challenge.

Do they fit together? Or inconsistent? These are some of the questions we ask when it comes to UX and audience behaviour, and we apply this to the storyboarding, as it helps us compose the art direction relevantly to the story and vertical spacing. We have to lead the viewer's eyes in different ways. We created content that only makes sense when vertical. 

We build UX and UI safe social guides for each platform to maintain consistency in our branding. If anyone were to do more vertical video, they'd be able to do so without losing the brand, faster and more productive workflow.


Vertical is king, and creating video for mobile devices presents unique opportunities and challenges. We constantly look for new and innovative ways to make new and exciting stories while remaining clear, bold, direct, and quick as creative content creators.

AJ+ clearly demonstrated and dominated the creative art direction for vertical space, enabling us to create videos that resonated with our audience. We needed to be able to experiment with the creative direction in order to push boundaries and come up with unexpected ideas. 

In AJ+, we have successfully made creative and editorial work together to create immersive and imaginative content; with the help of audience behaviour and platform UX, we have successfully engaged our audience deeper with the story and encouraged them to return for more.


Video for How We Use Vertical Video to Innovate in Formats and Serve Our Audiences Across Three AJ+ Channels

Entrant Company / Organization Name

AJ+ Arabi, AJ+ Español and AJ+ français