Italy’s media giant, Mediaset teams up with Wochit to answer the burning question: social video – square or portrait?

It’s now a fact, no longer popular opinion, that square, and vertical video alignment outperform landscape. This is because social videos are primarily consumed on mobile devices, held in vertical alignment 94% of the time.  

When it comes to non-landscape options, be it square, portrait, or vertical, it has yet to become completely clear, which is preferable. 

With the portrait aspect ratio being 4×5, a format somewhere between square and vertical, we wanted to set the record straight and determine if 4×5 videos perform better on Facebook than those at 1×1.

Wochit platform specifications for square, portrait, and vertical:

Partnering to uncover the answer

Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, and Wochit client were interested in answering this very question as well.

Taking advantage of Wochit’s easy reversioning tool, Mediaset quickly and efficiently produced all the videos they needed for the test.  

Together we evaluated the performance of dozens of square videos and dozens of portrait videos posted on Mediaset’s Play Cult Facebook page, which offers Italians access to nostalgic video clips from the ‘90s. 

To make this vast archive of throwback videos available to its audience, Mediaset needed to reformat the clips into different versions that would be consumable both on their website and social media properties, including Facebook and Instagram.

With Wochit’s automatic aspect ratio converter, this was a snap. As noted, to ensure engagement, it was critical to determine which format would be the super performer.

Automatic aspect ratio conversion with Wochit:

Facebook Play Cult video converted to 1×1 with Wochit:

Facebook Play Cult video converted to 4×5 with Wochit:

And the winner is . . . 

After collecting all the data, the clear winner across Mediaset’s most important KPIs was – portrait! 

Let’s take a look:

Portrait (4×5) over square (1×1)
Views: 147% ↑
Reactions: 69% ↑
Comments: 107% ↑

But we didn’t stop there. We also wanted to evaluate performance of the two formats on Mediaset’s Play Cult page on Instagram.

Instagram Play Cult video converted to 1×1 with Wochit:

Instagram Play Cult video converted to 4×5 with Wochit:

View this post on Instagram

Aldo Giovanni e Giacomo favolosi cubisti

A post shared by Play Cult (@mediasetplaycult) on

The Mediaset and Wochit teams were surprised to find that Instagram’s results were the complete opposite of those on Facebook. 

Namely, the winner was – square!

Square (1×1) over portrait (4×5)
Views: 24% ↑
Reactions: 25% ↑
Comments: 66% ↑

We believe that there is a very reasonable explanation for this. Namely, videos with the square format receive more comments on Instagram because the text about the video is visible directly below the video. 

This makes it more inviting for the viewer to leave a comment or react to either the video itself or what other people say about it. 

Leaving comments on square vs. portrait videos on Instagram

On the other hand, on Facebook, whether in ‘Watch’ mode or in feed, the experience for comments is the same regardless of aspect ratio, and – as we know, videos that take up more of the screen’s real estate tend to be the most engaging.

The impact of duration 

We decided that while we have such great data at our fingertips, it would be supremely beneficial for Mediaset to gauge how length impacted engagement, regardless of the aspect ratio.

So we went out and measured engagement with videos on Facebook at over three minutes and those at 45 – 90 seconds.

We found that the longer videos outperformed the shorter ones, as follows (per 3+ minute video):

  • Average views @ ~387K
  • Average reactions @ ~1.75K
  • Average comments @ ~140

So, as we can see, the best way to understand which kind of videos will most resonate with your audience – square or portrait? long or short? – is actually to go to the source and test the waters. 

And the best way to test the waters is with a video creation tool that allows you to create dozens to hundreds (and even thousands) of videos quickly, easily, and cost-efficiently.

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