Facebook have changed their recommended video ratio for advertising. It’s now 4:5. This means that the video is like a tall square.

Why would they recommend this over landscape video, or even taller video? And why is this relevant to your regular videos?

Why the change?

We wish the reason was something truly amazing (like humans eyes have evolved drastically since March) but the real reason is devastatingly logical and boring.

Most people don’t like twisting their phones to watch Facebook video in landscape.

You see, an overwhelming majority of social media users are viewing content on their phones. The most ergonomic format to hold your phone in is vertically, it just sits better in the hand. So when someone first stumbles across your video, that’s how your video will be viewed.

Facebook dimensions
Facebook supports a range of dimensions, but you'll want to know how each appears. Source: Facebook.

Why change Facebook video ads now?

Until now, the prevailing wisdom was that videos looked cool in landscape and most people would be willing to rotate their phones for the premium viewing experience.

But Facebook’s research has shown that in between low attention spans and fast scrolling, many people won’t give videos a chance unless they can be viewed straight away in an upright position on a mobile.

If you’re watching Netflix on the couch, or streaming sports highlights, it’s a different story, because you might be there for a while. But if you want to make a quick impression with a video, people are keeping their phones upright.

Facebook’s recommendations usually stem from their vast body of data and a serious amount of testing. If they’re recommending 4:5 as the ratio for your ads, you can assume that it’s proving successful.

Why not go ‘all in’ on portrait video?

Why not an even taller Facebook video, like 2:3 or full portrait (9:16)? Firstly, Instagram won’t show those posts in their feed. Also, at 4:5, there’s a good chance that a scroller is going to scroll far enough to have the whole video on screen with a single “scroll” gesture.

Taller video is likely to wind up partially hanging off the screen and out of sight. At 4:5, it’s easy to fit some other important things on screen: the link to your page, your logo, the accompanying description text, and the interaction buttons below. These reasons hold up on both Instagram and Facebook, which have increasingly similar feed structures.

Word of caution for those ’one take’ wonders

In the real world, many people will want one piece of video to be pushed out across multiple platforms and in multiple formats.

The only content format on Facebook and Insta that won’t accept 4:5 video is Instagram stories. Even if you want to use one video on every possible format, that’s kind of okay. Film it fully vertical (for the Instagram story) and make sure that everything essential is right in the middle of the video, so that it’s okay to trim off a bunch at the top and/or bottom to get it to fit the 4:5 ratio.

So that’s why we’d recommend a square, or slightly taller than square Facebook video for those videos that you want to boost in particular. It takes a little getting used to when you’re filming your videos, to keep the end ratio in mind but it might just be worth it for the extra reach.

Good video is still good video

At the end of the day, having something to say is still what matters most. Your other video production skills like lighting the shot and getting good sound are huge too. This is just a little something extra to throw in the mix for maximum performance.

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