Understanding Video Formats

Posted on May 19, 2010 in Video Marketing, Video Optimization

In order to successfully execute a Video SEO campaign, it is helpful to have an understanding of a few fundamentals about video formats.  Web video formats can be categorized in two basic groups, raw video and share-ready video.  Raw video is the source video that you retrieve from your camera.  Share-ready video is the finalized product that is ready for web distribution according to your VSEO strategy.

There are many share-ready video formats to choose from, and the most important things to keep in mind, in terms of VSEO, are resolution, compatibility, and size.  Generally, for internet distribution purposes, the smaller the file size, the better.  The larger your video files, the chances are the more frequently they will encounter streaming interruptions.

.AVI (Audio Video Interlaced)
This is a windows-based, standard video format.  It contains multiple streams of data, including a video, an audio, and a control track, so.avi files tend to be very large.  .Avi video is an excellent source video because it is widely accepted by video editing programs, but because one of the primary factors in VSEO is load-time, .avi is not recommended for video sharing.

.FLV (Adobe Flash Video)
This proprietary video format is currently the most common sharing format and almost all of the popular video sharing sites accept it.  After compression, .flv files tend to retain good quality and produce small sizes. YouTube, MySpace, and Yahoo! Video convert files uploaded in other formats into flash before streaming them to the viewer.  It is a good Video SEO strategy to convert to flash before submission to avoid unexpected loss of resolution.

.MOV (Apple QuickTime)
Apple introduced the first version of QuickTime in 1991 as an add-on to its System Software 6 operating system.  While this is a popular format, in terms of Universal Search and VSEO, it is not recommended because QuickTime movies need a (free) component installed to be viewed on Windows computers.

.MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14)
This format also contains digital video and audio streams, and can also store data such as subtitles, captions, and images.  It is directly based on Apple’s QuickTime format.  YouTube recommends this format, then converts to flv before streaming.   Because there is very little resolution loss, this is an acceptable format in terms of VSEO.

.MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)
This file format was designed in 1988 by a working group of experts assembled by the ISO.  The .mpeg format was created to set standards for audio and video compression and transmission.   Video files have the extension .mpg and audio files generally have the extension .mp2 or .mp3. Because these files are relatively large, they are not recommended for Video SEO purposes.

.RM or .RAM (RealVideo)
RealVideo is a proprietary introduced by RealNetworks in 1997.  RealVideo is supported by not only standard Windows and Mac computers, but also Linux, Solaris and many mobile technologies.  RealVideo is normally packaged with RealAudio in a RealMedia container.  It is most suitable for use in streaming media since it does not require the entire video to be downloaded before viewing. If your VSEO strategy contains streaming media, then this is a good format to use.

.WMV (Windows Media Video)
This file format was introduced in 1999 and was built upon Microsoft technology. It targets high-definition video content such as Blu-Ray and HD DVD output.  Microsoft boasts that the latest version of the .wmv format, WMV 9 has a compression ratio that is two times better than .mpeg formats.

SearchPro Systems is a leading, New England based, national digital marketing firm offering complete, end-to-end, Universal Search Marketing solutions, specializing in Video SEO.