Choosing Between Horizontal and Vertical Digital Signage for High-Traffic Areas

June 17, 2024

When it comes to deploying digital signage in high-traffic areas like lobbies, malls, or transportation hubs, one of the key decisions you'll face is whether to use horizontal digital signage or vertical digital signage. The orientation of your displays can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your messaging, the engagement of your audience, and the overall aesthetic of your space.

In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of digital signage horizontal and digital signage vertical display options, and provide guidance on how to choose the right approach for your specific needs and goals.

The Basics of Digital Signage Orientation

Before we dive into the specifics of horizontal and vertical digital signage, let's clarify what we mean by these terms.

  • Horizontal digital signage, also known as landscape orientation, refers to displays that are wider than they are tall. This is the most common orientation for TV screens and computer monitors, with typical aspect ratios of 16:9 or 4:3.
  • Vertical digital signage, also known as portrait orientation, refers to displays that are taller than they are wide. This orientation is less common in traditional media but has become increasingly popular in digital signage applications, particularly for mobile-first content.

The choice between horizontal and vertical orientation is not just a matter of personal preference or aesthetics. It can have significant implications for the type of content you can display, the way viewers interact with that content, and the overall impact of your digital signage on your audience and your space.

horizontal vs vertical digital signage

Advantages of Horizontal Digital Signage

Horizontal digital signage is the most familiar and widely used orientation, and for good reason. It offers several key advantages, particularly in high-traffic environments:

1. Familiarity and Readability

Most people are accustomed to viewing content in a horizontal format, whether it's on a TV screen, a computer monitor, or a movie theater. This familiarity can make horizontal digital signage feel more natural and easier to read at a glance, especially from a distance.

Horizontal orientation also allows for longer lines of text and more natural left-to-right reading, which can improve the readability and comprehension of your messages. This is particularly important in high-traffic areas where viewers may only have a few seconds to absorb your content as they pass by.

2. Video-Friendly Format

If your digital signage content includes a lot of video, horizontal orientation is often the best choice. Most video content, whether it's commercials, news clips, or social media posts, is produced in a horizontal aspect ratio. Displaying this content in its native orientation ensures that it looks its best and doesn't require any awkward cropping or black bars on the sides.

Horizontal displays also provide a wider field of view for video content, which can be more immersive and engaging for viewers. This is especially true for larger displays or video walls that can create a cinematic experience.

3. Versatility and Compatibility

Horizontal digital signage is compatible with a wider range of content types and sources, including standard TV broadcasts, web pages, and PowerPoint presentations. This versatility makes it easier to repurpose existing content for your digital signage, or to integrate your displays with other systems and media.

Horizontal displays are also more widely available and affordable, with a greater range of sizes and specifications to choose from. This can make it easier and more cost-effective to deploy horizontal digital signage at scale, particularly in larger high-traffic environments.

Advantages of Vertical Digital Signage

While horizontal digital signage may be the more traditional choice, vertical digital signage has been gaining popularity in recent years, particularly in certain high-traffic applications. Here are some of the key advantages of going vertical:

1. Eye-Catching and Disruptive

In a world where most screens are horizontal, a vertical display of digital signage can be a powerful way to stand out and grab attention. The unusual orientation can disrupt viewers' expectations and make them more likely to stop and take notice of your content.

This disruptive effect can be particularly effective in high-traffic areas where there's a lot of visual clutter and competition for attention. A well-placed vertical display can act as a visual anchor that draws the eye and creates a memorable impression.

2. Mobile-First Optimization

With the rise of smartphones and social media, more and more content is being created and consumed in a vertical format. From Instagram stories to TikTok videos, vertical content has become a natural part of the mobile-first landscape.

By using vertical digital signage, you can tap into this trend and create content that feels native and optimized for mobile viewing. This can be particularly effective for reaching younger audiences who are more accustomed to vertical scrolling and swiping.

Vertical displays can also be a good choice for integrating social media feeds or user-generated content into your digital signage. By mirroring the vertical orientation of mobile devices, you can create a more seamless and authentic experience for your viewers.

3. Space-Saving and Immersive

In high-traffic areas where floor space is at a premium, vertical digital signage can be a smart way to maximize your display area without taking up too much horizontal real estate. Vertical displays can be mounted on walls or placed in narrow spaces where horizontal displays wouldn't fit.

Vertical orientation can also create a more immersive and intimate viewing experience. By bringing the content closer to the viewer's face and natural field of vision, vertical displays can encourage more focused and engaging interactions.

horizontal vs vertical digital signage

Choosing the Right Orientation for Your Needs

So, how do you decide between horizontal digital signage and digital signage vertical display options for your high-traffic environment? Here are some key factors to consider:

Content Type and Format

The type of content you plan to display should be a primary driver of your orientation choice. If your content is mostly video-based or repurposed from horizontal formats, a horizontal display may be the most natural fit. If your content is mobile-first, social media-focused, or designed for vertical viewing, a vertical display may be more effective.

Audience and Viewing Distance

Consider who your target audience is and how they will be viewing your digital signage. Will they be walking by quickly or stopping to engage? Will they be viewing from a distance or up close? Horizontal displays may be better for longer viewing distances and quicker glances, while vertical displays may be better for closer, more focused interactions.

Space and Placement

The physical constraints and layout of your high-traffic environment should also factor into your decision. Do you have more horizontal or vertical space available? Are there natural viewing angles or sightlines that favor one orientation over the other? Vertical displays may be a good choice for narrow corridors or wall-mounted installations, while horizontal displays may work better for wider open spaces.

Aesthetics and Branding

Finally, consider the overall look and feel you want to create with your digital signage. Does a horizontal or vertical orientation better align with your brand identity and aesthetic goals? Do you want to create a more traditional and familiar viewing experience or a more disruptive and attention-grabbing one? The right orientation can help reinforce your brand messaging and create a more cohesive visual experience.

The Future of Digital Signage Orientation

As digital signage technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more options and innovations when it comes to display orientation. Some emerging trends to watch include:

  1. Flexible and curved displays: New display technologies like OLED and microLED are enabling more flexible and curved screen formats that can bend and wrap around surfaces in creative ways. This could open up new possibilities for orienting digital signage in high-traffic areas.
  2. Multi-orientation content: Rather than choosing a single orientation, some digital signage platforms are starting to support multi-orientation content that can adapt to different screen formats and layouts. This could allow for more dynamic and responsive signage that changes orientation based on the viewer or the environment.
  3. Augmented and virtual reality: As AR and VR technologies become more mainstream, we may start to see digital signage that blends the physical and digital worlds in new ways. This could include displays that react to viewer movements or gestures or that overlay virtual content onto real-world environments.

Ultimately, the goal of digital signage orientation will remain the same: to create engaging, effective, and memorable experiences that inform, entertain, and motivate viewers in high-traffic environments. Whether through horizontal, vertical, or entirely new orientations, the key is to choose the format that best aligns with your content, your audience, and your goals.


Choosing between horizontal digital signage and vertical digital signage for high-traffic areas is not a trivial decision. The orientation of your displays can have a significant impact on the way your content is perceived, engaged with, and acted upon by your audience.

By understanding the advantages and best practices of each orientation and carefully considering your specific needs and goals, you can make an informed choice that maximizes the impact and effectiveness of your digital signage.

Whether you go horizontal, vertical, or something in between, the most important thing is to keep your audience at the center of your strategy. By creating content that is clear, compelling, and optimized for your chosen orientation, you can cut through the noise of high-traffic environments and deliver messages that resonate and stick with your viewers.

As you explore the exciting possibilities of digital signage orientation, stay open to new ideas and approaches that can help you stand out and make a lasting impression. With the right strategy and execution, your digital signage can be a powerful tool for engaging and motivating your audience, no matter which way you turn it.

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