Media Companies Investing In An Increasingly 9:16 World

tastemade vid grab

If you have been around digital signage for a few years, you know about the struggles sign networks that were based around portrait mode had in finding and using content.

Just about everything out there was landscape, and precious little was made in their chosen 9:16 format. So these networks would either do serious edits on available stuff, run the video in landscape and dress up the big gaps above and below, or develop original creative.

The latter can be great … but expensive.

Now we’re in a world where many, to most, consumers look at their favourite screens in portrait mode, and when people shoot personal video, most forget to tilt their smartphones and just shoot in portrait.

We’re so accustomed to that format now that at least one agency is building its original production business specifically around portrait-mode content.

LA-based Tastemade just raised $40 million, layered on top of an earlier big money raise, to build out the business further and, as Ad Age speculates in a story today, probably sell to a large media company. That guesswork owes a lot to the newest sugar-daddy behind the company being Goldman Sachs.

The company has been around three years, producing web-centric videos for the foodie market, and later, for travel. They have studios and processes, as the video below lays out, that are all about the idea of media produced and then consumed from a 9:16 perspective. They even made the cupboards narrow and the windows tall in a studio kitchen to play to that perspective.

So why am I writing about a digital media company doing web content?

Well first, it’s content that fits – particularly – the Digital OOH and retail markets. Digital OOH – save billboards and specialty installs – predominantly portrait. A lot of retail is portrait because that shape often fits the physical setting, and in many cases is better for showing product (ie clothes).

Second, here’s a company that has its head around the format, and could be a partner or resource. You can see in that video how the creatives understand the quick timing, big visuals and clutter-free design signage also needs.

Third, if I’m running a content shop focused on signage and digital OOH, and I’m try to lay down ownership of a style or set of experiences, this is one I believe is largely untapped. The next wave of conversions in digital signage will be print posters to digital posters. Guess what format probably 99% of them use?

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes


12+ year-old blog and podcast about digital signage & related tech, written by industry consultant, analyst & bullshit filter Dave Haynes.
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1 Comment

  • Bruno Pupo says:

    Well before we all started carrying that big hunk of glass in our pocket I read a paper that cited a portrait Vs landscape study. In a nut shell the study found consumers associated landscape displays as entertainment delivery devices and portrait displays as primarily information delivery tools. Since we all watch TV programs and movies in a landscape orientation it would make sense that our brains first expect landscape messages to be entertaining. Since most posters, maps and reading materials are often in a portrait orientation, our brains automatically look for an informational message. Maybe this is all starting to change with the millions of smart phone cams and entertaining cat videos out there. For now if your application is to advertise or communication a relatively short dwell-time messages, portrait seems to be a best practice orientation.

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