The Future of Vertical Storytelling: An Interview with Curt Doty



Curt Doty, CEO of Vertuoso, is an award-winning Strategist, Storyteller and Creative, who brings leadership experience across the entertainment, marketing and branding worlds. His pioneering spirit has led him into innovative UI and creative technology experiences focused on multi-platform storytelling and interactive content. His expertise lies in marketing and branding with a focus on digital. He is, and continues to be, a thought leader, visionary and outspoken creative on what is happening in Tech, Content and Design.

We were fortunate enough to chat with Curt Doty about Vertuoso, content marketing trends, and the future of vertical storytelling. Check out the full interview below.


Let’s talk about your background. What made you want to get into digital marketing and entertainment marketing?

“I fell into Television starting my career at ABC News in NY, where design and animation was in its infancy in the context of computer animation. Designing for television took me all over the world and formed my early origins of storytelling.”

What are your goals for Vertuoso? What was the driving force behind this new agency?

“The goals are simple. Evangelize the format. Change attitudes. Create and support vertical storytelling as a new art form. The driving force behind the insights driven launch of Vertuoso was the data staring at us in the face. Mobile has created a new behavior around video consumption and the old school media has only embraced mobile as a repurposing platform. When really the opportunity is to challenge the norm, understand your audience, tailor content to where they are viewing it and oh, the result… is innovation.”

Can you tell me a little more about the research side of Vertuoso? How will your neuroscience studies enhance your campaigns?

“With mobile and social context top of mind, we have conducted our own studies with SPARK Neuro, in the advertising world and the movie trailer world. We found that repurposed trailers don’t work. Panning and scanning a filmmakers work not only pisses off the filmmaker but they are also too long for the viewing habits of mobile.

In the ad world, shorter is better and customized vertical approaches are clever and more memorable. Eye-tracking patterns vary a lot. Imagine watching a trailer on the big screen, on your HDTV, on your laptop and then on your phone…vertically. When done right, the framing, choreography, the increased use of typography all contribute to higher attention and emotion engagement. Research led us to our insights on the opportunity, though there are a few networks and studios who came up with their own conclusions and are starting to do it right.

At Vertuoso, we give our clients the opportunity to get in on aggregate research done in a Neuro-Pool; whether it is studying their existing campaigns or new creatives that we have done.”

2017 is winding down and we’d like to know what brands you think utilized video content the best this year. What was your overall favorite piece of digital, content, or video marketing this year?

It’s hard to pick one, as there are a myriad of approaches and types of content. Focusing on social video and video other than landscape, here are some of my favorites…

For Square Video

  • Netflix The Crown season 2
  • Hulu Original The Looming Tower First Look
  • Hulu Original The Handmaid’s Tale campaign
  • Focus Features IT Blu-ray campaign
  • STARZ The Girlfriend Experience

For Vertical Video

  • E News Rundown on Snapchat Stories
  • CNN The Update on Snapchat Stories
  • Vulture on Snapchat Stories
  • Nespresso Talents 2017 Vertical Film Festival
  • Panasonic’s 4K Movie –
  • Amazon Prime The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Amazon Prime Original The Grand Tour

I had a look at your Vimeo and your consultancy and you’ve created some pretty impressive promotional content (trailers, tv spots, etc.), websites and marketing campaigns. Is there a standout project you’ve worked on thus far?

I have done a lot of work, all over the world, but I like to point to the projects where Design, Content and Technology have come together to create an intersection of Innovation. Namely, my early work in R&D with Microsoft in bringing interactivity to movies on your smartphone and continuing in R&D projects with Apple in the launch of their iBooks. Being at the cutting edge of the Format Wars (HD DVD vs. Blu-ray) was a blast and I was able to lead a lot of innovative efforts around interactive content and early connected experiences.

You have over ten years experience working in production and post-production and you direct the live-action of all your own shoots. What sparked your interest in production?

I worked at a great agency, Pittard Sullivan, who believed in the power of designing for the screen. They gave designers the opportunity and, most times, freedom, to creatively lead entire projects through production and post-production. As a Designer/Director, I was fortunate to be surrounded by mentors and producers who mentored me and created a collaboration that was inspirational, to say the least.

Your new company Vertuoso is the first agency dedicated to vertical storytelling. How do you think content marketers can utilize vertical storytelling going into 2018?

When we approach media companies, we come at them with a trifecta of opportunity.

  1. PROMO – Convert and/or re-conceive all of your episodic promo for vertical.
  2. BRANDED CONTENT – Utilize Branded Content, i.e. inserting a brand into ancillary original content, and go vertical.
  3. ORIGINAL CONTENT – Create webisodes as vertical storytelling. Use legacy content on library, create trivia tracks on 3-5 minute cut-downs of episodes. Post on all social channels and cross promote to movie, broadcast, or digital.

Video content is one of the best ways to engage with consumers and it’s always evolving. What video marketing trends are you most excited to see unfold in 2018?

  • More branded content.
  • Vertical Thumbnails on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Squarespace.
  • Show proliferation on Snapchat Stories.
  • Influencers shift to Vertical format.

What tech trends do you think movie and entertainment marketers should utilize in 2018?

  • Follow mobile journalism (MOJO) to see how they are adapting to vertical formats.
  • Follow Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see how their STORIES sections evolve and the advertising therein.
  • There is a massive shift to mobile and they should not only adopt a MOBILE FIRST approach, but adopt a VERTICAL FIRST approach. It will change how they conceive, capture and produce marketing content.

Storytelling and content marketing go hand in hand but I’ve noticed that a lot of brands are focused more on quantity than quality. How can we grow not just as marketers but as creative storytellers?

The steady drumbeat of content marketing is important. I believe that “purposeful production” gives storytellers more material to work with, versus using the afterthought pitfalls of using what you have. The more that vertical concepts can be included in the ideation stage, the smarter the process will be and will lead to greater storytelling.

What tips would you give to content marketers wanting to explore AR and VR tech for the first time?

VR has a had a long and slow start. But here is a recap from the A List

  • Hardware makers, content developers and tech giants like Facebook and Google remain committed to helping the industry grow, and this year alone saw Hollywood further embrace the technology to create memorable movie promotions, leading more celebrities to become involved with VR.
  • HTC and Oculus cut their hardware prices, with the latter launching a large-scale campaign over the summer to grow adoption while IMAX debuted its first VR arcades in the US.
  • Sony reported that over 2 million PlayStation VR headsets and 12.2 million VR games were sold worldwide, in addition to 70.6 million PlayStation 4 consoles.
  • Intel launched its VR esports initiative.
  • Both Apple and Google are bringing support to augmented reality.
  • Microsoft is partnering with hardware companies to make mixed reality headsets, while HTC and Oculus both announced wireless headsets for next year.

VR seems to be finally finding its stride, but notice how both Apple and Google are showing strong support for augmented reality. Devices such as the iPhone X appear to be driving enthusiasm and there are less hardware hurdles for adoption.

For both AR and VR platforms, it comes down to creating great content and who is creating it. AR through your smartphone is immediately accessible but it’s all about the quality of the content and the various modes of storytelling.

What we are seeing now with AR is that there is an immediate opportunity to reach more consumers. It’s available today and it will be available on more than 1 billion devices in the marketplace by the end of 2018.

VR and AR are fundamentally different technologies, with deeper and more immersive experiences in VR. The VR challenge is the debate between “Experience” vs. “Story.” The non-linear aspect of VR provides an infinite amount of possibilities but you tend to throw out all the conventions of cinematic storytelling. The most movement in the space has been provided by the movie studios, namely Fox and Warner Bros. who tap into filmmakers visions and stories and create extended worlds, utilizing all the post production synergy to create some fantastic worlds.

I think the greatest VR opportunities right now are location-based experiences, like IMAX is starting to create. Follow this and the money trail that follows and VR just might get the juice it deserves. 

What content creation tools or software do you recommend?

For me, I am more focused on the idea. But I use photoshop and illustrator everyday.

What piece of advice would you give to young professionals who want to get into marketing?

Young professionals, recent art school grads and current art students need to be aware of all the massive shifts happening in technology and how they relate to industry opportunities. Art and Film Schools are less agile and adjusting curriculums to reflect current trends takes time. Sometimes longer than your stay. So, my advice is to take charge of your own path, talk to creators who excite you, learn and create your own program while in school and once out, follow the money. Learn where the intersection of art and commerce is thriving and stake your claim.


Founded by creative entrepreneur Curt Doty in 2017, and located in Los Angeles, New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Vertuoso works with brands, agencies, studios, networks, and media companies to collaborate on enhancing and optimizing video campaigns to take advantage of the newest behaviors in the consumption of social video.

Vertuoso is also a production company that sources the best DP’s and crews from across the country to accept this new challenge of shooting and framing for landscape and portrait. Using Design to drive a story graphically is becoming increasingly more critical to the industry, and has become tantamount to enticing the public’s behavior, since marketers can no longer rely on traditional paradigms of audio, music, and dialogue to propel a story. With the increased use of infographics and explainer videos, Design plays a bolder role in retaining attention.

Vertuoso also incorporates Neuroscience studies into its workflow, to measure the emotions and attention of viewers to the millisecond. Utilizing this approach, Vertuoso can enhance each of its clients’ campaigns, and can better help educate its diverse, global client base. Please see:

Connect with Curt Doty on LinkedIn.

Company Contact

Curt Doty



(310) 994-7810

Contact via email


Media Contact

Dan Harary


The Asbury PR Agency