7 Top Video Trends for 2021: From Vertical Video to Animation

We chat to our Envato video experts to find out the top video trends they’re predicting to reel-y take off in 2021 and beyond...

Video Trends 2021
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated August 29, 2023

If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it a thousand times – video is the most engaging form of content online. Videos are eye-catching, they’re easy to watch, and they tell a story – which keeps audiences hooked until the end. 

But with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, 500 million people now using Instagram Stories daily, and SO much video content floating around online, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the latest video trends and techniques to ensure you’re ahead of the curve.

So, how can videographers and video creators put their ideas into motion and take their videos to the next level this year? We chat to the video experts to find out the video trends they’re predicting to take off in 2021…

1. Social Media Video

Over the last few years, video content has quickly become a staple of our social media feeds. And in 2021, we predict that short, snack-able social media videos will continue to grow in popularity.

The explosion of TikTok and Instagram Reels in 2020 has fuelled this trend, with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Sephora using Reels, and big names such as MAC Cosmetics and the NBA jumping on the TikTok bandwagon. Tonnes of smaller names are also creating social media video, such as bookworm brand Belletrist’s “Inside My Bookshelf” style Instagram series. 

There’s no doubt that social media has totally changed the way we view and consume content online – especially video content. And as a result, both the vertical and ephemeral video trends have begun to emerge. 

What Is Ephemeral Video? 

Ephemeral videos are videos that are only accessible temporarily – usually for a 24-hour period – before they disappear forever. Made popular by Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram Stories, the quick-fix, limited-time nature of ephemeral video makes it effective, engaging and incredibly addictive. In fact, Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, with 500 million accounts using Instagram Stories every day.  

Ephemeral videos such as Instagram Stories play an important part in video marketing, as they’re a great way for brands to interact and engage with their audiences as well as share user-generated content. Plus, ephemeral videos typically see higher levels of engagement due to their time-sensitive nature. 

What Is Vertical Video? 

Going hand in hand with ephemeral video, is vertical video. According to MediaBrix, vertical videos have a 90% higher completion rate than horizontal videos, with less than 30% of mobile users watching videos horizontally. Once limited to our Instagram feeds, vertical videos are now everywhere – including Instagram Stories, Snapchat and, of course, TikTok. 

And it’s not just social media – vertical video is even making its way into cinema. Posted by Apple, Damien Chazelle’s short film “The Stunt Double” is a journey through cinema history reimagined for the vertical screen and shot on iPhone 11 Pro. 


“Over the last few years we’ve seen a shift in the consumption of media, with people now spending more time per day using a mobile phone than watching television,” says Envato Video Specialist Mark Brodhuber. “Adding to the explosive growth of video-based social platforms like Instagram Stories, Reels, TikTok & Snapchat, users now expect short, succinct and to-the-point video content. And because we’re talking about mobile consumption, the preferred orientation is trending towards vertical video.” 

Like it or not, as long as smartphones and social media are alive and well, the ephemeral and vertical video trends are here to stay. 

2. Interactive Video

Jungle Book Interactive
The Jungle Book Interactive

A style of content that’s futuristic and cutting edge, interactive video is perhaps the newest video trend on the scene – and we expect it to spread like wildfire in 2021. 

What Is Interactive Video? 

As the name suggests, interactive video is a new form of video that allows viewers to directly interact with the content they’re viewing. While very new on the scene, interactive video has already proven to be very effective. In fact, 70% of marketers say interactive video engages audiences “very well,” and 68% of marketers believe it will continue to become a super important trend in the video industry. 

In particular, shoppable videos are a form of interactive video that will most likely change the ecommerce game. Enabling the viewer to purchase items directly from the video they’re watching, shoppable videos typically feature a drop-down menu linking to a product page where a purchase can be made with the tap of a finger. 

Big corporations such as IKEA, Amazon, YouTube and Instagram have already started to launch shoppable videos, and video platforms such as AiBUY, NTWRK and Shoploop are now hosting shoppable videos too. 

“Shoppable Video takes the interactive video idea and commercializes it, allowing customers to shop as they watch,” says Envato Video Marketing Specialist, Jen McKinnon. “The technology is already out there but, in 2021, it’s likely to really gain steam as brands continue to zero in on video as a valuable marketing tool.” 

But interactive video offers more creative possibilities than just purchasing products. 

The Jungle Book recently released an interactive video allowing viewers to go behind the scenes of how the movie was made. And Netflix’s original interactive film, Bandersnatch, took audiences by storm when it allowed viewers to choose their own ending. 

“Amazon has implemented interactivity on their Prime Video streaming platform, where you can click the screen and immediately see cast information about the actors in the current frame,” Jen explains.  

On a smaller scale, creators can add quizzes, polls or reactions to their videos or live streams to make them more interactive. No matter how you look at it, there’s no doubt that interactive video is the way of the future, and a great tool for engaging people in any narrative you want to tell. 

3. Live Video

In 2019, internet users watched a whopping 1.1 billion hours of live video. In 2020, live video became the savior for many industries due to its convenience, relatability, and accessibility. In 2021, the live video trend shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, a study by 99firms suggests that 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video than read a blog, and video streaming is expected to account for 82% of all Internet traffic in 2021. 

“While Live Video is not a new trend, we are set to see it shine on in 2021, as audiences continue to crave and demand authenticity,” explains Jen. “On social media, live video can provide a rare glimpse into the lives of celebrities, a behind-the-scenes look at top brands or an opportunity to interact more closely with our favorite online personalities. Going Live can also boost brand credibility for businesses who are positioning themselves as an authority in a particular field as it provides a platform to demonstrate immediate knowledge.” 

Live video is quickly becoming the new normal due to its real and authentic nature – not to mention the fact that it offers an easier and cheaper way to hold an event, show or gig and connect to a wide audience. While this trend was sure to have grown on its own, the global crisis only added fuel to the fire, with live video becoming a necessity for many industries – particularly fashion, music and entertainment.

In addition to influencers and big brands going live on social media – such as Brooklyn 99 star Chelsea Peretti, Sephora, MTV and NASA – many typically offline events such as festivals, fashion shows, gigs and galleries have also embraced live video, including Glastonbury Festival and Stockholm Fashion Week.

But, due to the raw, unedited nature of live videos, Mark suggests putting a little more effort into presentation if you want to stand out from the crowd. 

“Both Shoppable video and live videos really benefit from being dressed up a bit,” says Mark. “Using on-screen graphics, producers can take their videos to the next level by emphasizing the areas of the screen that they want users to focus on. Our Broadcast Packages, and Social Media categories within Video Templates offer a massive variety of layouts that come with animated graphics to showcase products or information, while providing ample space for footage or video to be displayed at the same time.”

4. Personalized Video

In a world where consumers are bombarded by between 5,000 and 10,000 ads a day, creating a video that stands out online can seem like a near impossible task. So how can you create video content that really cuts through the noise? One word: personalization.

What Is Personalized Video?

Personalized videos are videos that incorporate an individual’s personal details – such as their name, email address, age or profile picture – to create content specifically for them. Personalized videos are often created using one base video, which is then edited with video effects that can sub in a recipient’s personal information, similar to a personalized email. For example, sites such as JibJab allow anyone to create personalized videos and customized E-cards starring you, your family and friends

Proven to stimulate engagement and build relationships between brands and consumers, personalized videos are all about making people feel valued, represented and cared for. And due to the turbulent nature of 2020, people are craving a bit of TLC and a sense of connection more than ever. Because of their specific and personal nature, personalized videos are extremely sharable – making them a highly effective, engaging and interactive form of content. 

“Personalized video is an emerging trend that aims to improve customer engagement by tailoring the viewing experience to include dynamic information relevant to the viewer,” Mark explains. “Personalization is generally achieved through the addition of on-screen graphics. Companies that publish personalized video content have reported an increase in engagement and conversions by up to 20%.” 

Personalized marketing is nothing new, and is essentially the art of using consumer data to tailor your marketing to a target demographic. But, the beauty of using video – particularly social media video – for personalized marketing, is that social media platforms often provide a deep well of data, information and insights, all of which can be leveraged to better engage audiences and tailor content based on demographic, previous purchases or content preferences. 

With the increasing amount of user data available on social media, many big brands are creating personalized video campaigns. Cadbury ran a Facebook video campaign that allowed users to create a personalized video using data pulled from their account, and Breast Cancer Now took a similar approach with their ‘Wear It Pink’ personalized video marketing campaign.

Whether it’s your personal preference or not, there’s no denying that personalized video is going to be a big trend in 2021. 

5. Animation

A video style that connects with everyone – from children to adults to the elderly – animation is a discipline that never gets old. After years of being an emerging tactic for catching people’s attention quickly, animation finally broke into the mainstream. In today’s digital landscape, you must have seen an animated explainer video or animated music video on your social media feeds, websites, or somewhere else online. These are the best examples of asynchronous communication.

Animation became an essential tool in 2020, when companies were unable to shoot real footage. Many experts are predicting that animated videos will gain even more momentum in 2021, as we continue to see a wide range of animation styles and techniques emerging.

“Animation is easy to produce remotely and, in a time where many countries have limits on face-to-face contact, the design-based video format is set to rise, bridging the gap for businesses who are safety conscious but still want to deliver their message through video,” says Jen. “As lockdowns lift and studios open up, we’ll begin to see a fusion of live action and animated elements take to our screens. For example, Paypal was well ahead of the curve with this playful advertisement.” 

Fluid animation – a type of motion animation with persistent movement, often characterized by having an appearance akin to liquid – became a big video trend during 2020, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. While eventually expected to take a backseat to flat design, gradients are also a big trend in the animation arena. Frequently used by big brands like Stripe, iPhone and Instagram, the gradient trend’s popularity is at an all-time high. 

Another trend expected in 2021 is ‘motion collage’ – or, in other words, a mixture of animation and video. Imitating the concept of augmented reality, live-motion video can be spruced up with fun animated characters or icons to create a motion collage effect. This is great for creating unique, imaginative videos that really stand out from the crowd.

To delve into the magical world of animation, try out this Animations Explainer Toolkit by digitalproducts669, these Animated Emojis by Quis and these 65 Animated Animal Icons by Krafted!

Searchable video is pegged to be a big video marketing trend in 2021. With so many brands churning out high-quality video content daily, and search engine algorithms becoming more complex and intelligent, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your video is SEO optimized. 

YouTube provides brands with all kinds of unique marketing opportunities, one of which is an ability to build extra organic visibility through both video carousels and featured snippets.

“Video is the most accessible form of content – it has something for everyone and, for that reason, it’s in high demand,” explains Jen. “Search engines have always favoured written content as it’s easier for the algorithms to understand and catalogue but that’s all changing with advanced AI. We’re now seeing video featured in the Google SERPs and it has become imperative for content creators to optimise their videos for search in order to be found by the right audience.”

Google has plenty of information on how to structure video content to make the most of search – but long story short: the better the information you provide, the easier your video will be for your audience to find.

Some tips to ensure your video is searchable and SEO optimized include: 

  • Use video file names, titles, and descriptions that contain your target keyword.
  • Add relevant tags, popular keywords, and keywords related to your video’s topic.
  • Add subtitles and closed captions.
  • Create original thumbnail images.

To create more searchable video content, get started with this Fashion YouTube Thumbnail by iDoodle and this Subtitles Toolkit by snowcake!

7. Video for Internal Communications

Internal video communications have been the cornerstone for employee training and onboarding for many years. However, in 2021, the use of video content for employee education, communication, and collaboration is expected to grow. 

There’s no denying that, for many people, video is a super quick and effective way to learn. It’s a fantastic medium for educating new employees on company policies, expectations and messaging, and humanize executives by bringing them closer to their teams. Yet, the use of internal video is still limited in most businesses. This is because, for most companies, videos can be challenging to record, edit, share, host, and access – making a document, email or presentation the easier alternative. 

“2020 kicked many businesses into gear with the use of technological communication techniques,” says Jen. “As the medium that most closely mimics face-to-face interaction, video was used for the first time for many businesses to communicate, as they adapted their meetings to platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts. The focus was shifted from perfecting live presentations to producing professional and, more importantly, digestible internally-distributed videos in their place.”

As both video and the ways in which it can be created continues to evolve, there’s no doubt that internal video communications will soon become the norm. In 2021, we expect to see more businesses empower their teams and employees to create and share secure video content, while also incorporating more video into their wider internal communications and employee programs.

One way to help with this is to start creating internal staff communication with an audio-first mindset. Private podcasting is a fast growing area, and many companies are using a private podcast to inform staff, to cultivate team culture and to allow staff to share their own view with their team. You can learn how to start a podcast and then, during recording, capture the video alongside. This means, with the addition of a few of our video packs, you can release an audio version alongside a polished up video version, and allow your staff to consume the content in whatever medium they choose. Using a tool like Alitu can make the editing even easier, as you can upload the video and create

To add some video to your internal communications, check out this infographic charts pack, this corporate promo and this corporate presentation

And that’s a wrap on our Video Trends Predictions for 2021! For more great trends content, check out our Design Trends for the year ahead, as well as our Creative Trends Predictions for 2021!

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