Tasty's square video publisher

What Tasty’s Square Video Means for Brand Advertising

Tasty posts short, mouthwatering video recipes that have captured the attention of users and advertisers across the world.

Owned by Buzzfeed, Tasty has become a viral phenomenon – recording over 58m likes for the page as a whole, as well as generating hundreds of thousands of likes and views per video.

Along with a sister page Nifty, which shows people how to make cool things in minute long videos, Tasty’s approach to mobile video is now seen by many as best practice in the space – which is increasingly inspiring mobile advertisers using video to approach their brand advertising differently.

Why, though, has this happened? And what does it mean for marketers? Here’s a quick run through of why this approach is proving to be an appetizing option for brand advertisers working on mobile.

nifty square video

Mobile Video: Short, Subtitled and Square

When most people think video, they think about the experience of watching a film or a TV show. The video is shot in widescreen landscape, the running time is anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours and audio strongly shapes the watching experience.

Tasty’s success is built on square videos that last less than a minute and feature no spoken content. In fact, the only commentary in the videos is a handful of subtitles that provide ingredient measures and cooking instructions for the recipe being shown.

Why such a difference? Well, there are three reasons why Tasty’s format happens to be much better suited to mobile than traditional video tactics are.

First, square video works well on mobile because it allows users to keep using their phones in portrait – the format preferred by 90% of smartphone users when browsing. So, instead of forcing users to turn their phone horizontally to watch a clip that automatically fills the whole screen, services like Facebook have opted for a square video to fit this behavior instead – offering content in a format viewers will appreciate.

Changing the Perception of Mobile Video

Second, the introduction of autoplay videos into the news feed of applications has changed the way we watch and interact with mobile video.

On the one hand, autoplay has significantly increased the amount of video we watch online. Since Facebook launched the feature in 2014, the company has seen its video views jump to an incredible 8 billion per day – showing how automatically playing content in the news feed does grab the attention of passing readers.

On the other hand, auto-playing has also changed what is best practice in a video. To preserve UX, Facebook, and other platforms, mute videos until a user taps it.

As a result, 85% of videos watched on Facebook are done so on mute. This helps to explain the rise of subtitling within Tasty’s mobile videos, which communicates the video’s message without the help of audio – encouraging people to watch videos, even if they can’t listen to them.

Short & Sweet

Third, and finally, the way people interact with their devices has meant that shorter videos perform much better on mobile devices.

We’ve all known for a long time that smartphone session lengths are shorter than on desktop, meaning there is less time to capture and retain user attention. And that’s borne out in video advert best practices. As Buzzfeed explained in a recent newsletter, 75% of the company’s top performing videos on Facebook had a running time of less than a minute.

By keeping a video short and sweet, there is a greater chance that a user who will watch the whole of it – capturing more of their attention in the long run.

tasty square video

Making Your Video Content Tasty

Ultimately, the reason why Tasty’s videos work so well is because they feel natural on mobile. Their videos are best watched in portrait, they’re non-disruptive and they engage you quickly: encouraging you to watch and act if a piece of content or an advert captures your attention.

This means that Tasty has real potential as a native channel by itself. The first way it does this is by naturally promoting Buzzfeed content within its feed, pushing viewers to the parent site to help it monetize adverts and sell sponsored pieces.

And the second way it could monetize is by partnering with a brand to support the creation of a particular recipe. Looking for a pasta sauce for a spaghetti bolognese recipe? The video could recommend Dolmio – driving awareness, and potentially sales, for that particular brand.

That, however, is only partly why Tasty is important. Of more significance is the fact that the approach they take to videos is proving to be useful for a number of different businesses creating mobile video content – whether advertising or otherwise.

For example, Angry Birds Pop demonstrates how text can be used in a video to outline product features in a colorful trailer. UniLadMag shows how potentially popular viral content, like a cat falling down a bed, can have a greater hook when there are text explainers at the top and the bottom. Even Facebook is following the Tasty approach, with a short square video and subtitles smattered throughout its latest Facebook video adverts.

Furthermore, the best practices for native mobile video on Facebook also extends to other social platforms too.

For example, Eurogamer used a twenty-second subtitled video to advertise an entertaining new entry in a Let’s Play series on their Twitter channel. And with Instagram using square images and videos as standard within its feed, successful practices from Facebook can be easily applied there.


To summarise, brand advertisers need to learn from Tasty’s square video approach because it fits perfectly with the mobile context.

The tactics they have used to maximize the effectiveness of their video, as well as their content, are broadly applicable to most brands, but advertisers need to adapt their mindset to prioritize simple subtitling, enticing visuals and short run times to keep users engaged.

Crucially, the most important thing brand advertisers need to take away from Tasty is how important it is to run native non-disruptive adverts on mobile. By fitting in with the mobile experience, Tasty has grown a huge audience in a matter of months.

And by adapting their approach to mobile video to brand advertising, it’s more than possible that mobile advertisers could see significant positive results for their business in the long run.

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