Illustration for a blog post showing a man branding a sword in front of a monster made of screens

Content creation can be pretty challenging, especially for agencies and marketing teams who have to put brands and products in front of the right consumers every day. There are many ways to do that and repurposing content is definitely the most effective one. You can turn videos into podcasts, articles, and social media posts…  Still, offering the right type of content that relates to the platforms customers consume your content is what conquers their hearts.

Dealing with videos of different sizes and proportions is like fighting a monster with many faces. The ability to adapt makes powerful each point of contact with the brand you’re working with. Adaptation in video format doesn’t mean cutting it down to fit different durations. It isn’t something to think about later in the process. It must be defined in the early stages of the strategy and development of the story. It’s the “preparation for the battle.”

Before jumping in on that, let’s understand better how video changed in the last years.

Creating video content in the past

During the transition from SD to HD resolutions, we would produce a video or animation at the 16:9 aspect ratio(widescreen) paying attention to keep the vital information inside the 4:3 ratio. This attention to  the Safe Areas, allowed early adopters of widescreens and digital signal TVs to consume better and crispy content without harming those who were still with their old TVs.

By that time, the orientation we recorded video was always the same as the output. Besides the safe area in mind, everything else was pretty straight forward and ready to go.

Well, nowadays, we don’t have that “luxury,” but we are living in an era that brings video content closer to customers than ever before.

The different types of media we have nowadays

Nowadays, if we want to explore its full potential and have people, in fact, watching it, the same content needs to work, at least, in the following proportions: horizontal(16:9), vertical(9:16), square (1:1) and in the “social media standard”(4:5). But not only the “shape” of our videos requires adaptation, their length also changes according to where the videos are being shared. It can sound quite scary, but there’s more coming.

Talking about duration, traditional TV ads would run for 15 or 30 seconds most of the time. When explainer videos started to gain some traction online, the 1:30min to 2:00min mark become a standard for internet videos. However, with the increase of video consumption in social media, additional videos of 5 to 10min (YouTube content), 60 sec(Instagram Feed posts), 10–15 sec(Snapchat and Instagram/Facebook Stories), and also 6 sec( non-skippable YouTube ads) are becoming the new norms.

Below, I made a list to make it easier to visualize the challenges and different types of content required to win the game in today’s content battle:

Ratios:

  • 16:9 ratio — TV, Embed website videos, YouTube, IGTV
  • 9:16 ratio — Stories (Instagram and Facebook), TikTok, Snapchat, IGTV
  • 4:5 ratio — Social Feeds(Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds)
  • 1:1 ratio — Alternative Social Feeds(most of the social media feeds work better in the 4:5 aspect ratio, but 1:1 has been seeing as an alternative in some cases)

Durations:

  • 5 min to 10 min — Youtube Videos (that scores higher inside their “algorithm”)
  • 1:30 min to 2:00 min — Website Videos in general (most of the Explainer Videos)
  • 60 sec — Social Media feeds (It’s Instagram’s maximum duration at the moment)
  • 15–30 sec — Ads for TV or Internet
  • 10–15 sec — Most of the vertical Snapchat and Stories(IG and FB) content type
  • 6 sec — Bumper, non-skippable YouTube ads created to extend the reach of a campaign

What does this adaptation teach us

Our mission is to put great content in front of people. Knowing how each platform and type of content is better received by your audience is just the first step.

The key here is to plan for this adaptability as early as possible, seeing it as a necessity, instead of doing everything and then making some "cuts".. It can be a positive constraint and opportunity if you have enough time to come up with smart solutions to solve those aspect ratio requirements.

In the last years, we saw a banalization of the term storytelling, but the 2020’s decade is here to challenge us to prove we are real storytellers. 

Adapting a story to fit and thrive in the different formats is not an easy task, but having time to train and prepare your arsenal accordingly can make any battle a lot more feasible.

Another thing to consider is that the kind of video plays a huge part in how difficult this adaptation might be. Live-action stories have a lot of restrictions in comparison to animation and any change further down the road to make something fit into a specific size or duration can require an absurd amount of work, time and money.  That's why choosing the best way to create an accessible and adaptable content is gold! The perfect video must carry the core of the message and the heart of the brand with the same visual impact across all aspect ratios and durations.

I’ll talk more about adapting stories in my future articles, but for now, what I want you to take out of this is that video content needs to live naturally on the platform it’s aimed to be shown. The sooner you define where your video will play, the more time you’ll have to plan your story right.

Don’t be afraid of the challenge. Embrace it so you can deliver something people will love to watch in the place they love to consume content.