Just: Access logo web purple

Top 5 common video formats


What are the common video formats and how do they differ? Read on to find out…

Videos have fast become one of the most favoured ways to share content. They’re visual, they’re interactive, and they’re engaging and stand out on the page. In today’s “scroll down” culture content creators are forever looking at new and innovative ways to stop people in their tracks.

But videos are now so commonplace that people have come to expect a certain high quality. Any roadblocks, whether it be slow loading, poor sound or bad visuals are a guaranteed switch off in a crowded social media world. Luckily there are a plethora of different video formats.

Different formats are chosen for their different strengths, from high quality pictures to wide compatibility. That’s why it’s important that you pick the one that suits your project best. So let’s have a look at the ones you’ll likely bump into on the web:


This one might be as close to “standard” as you can get. AVI stands for Audio Video Interweave. It was developed by Microsoft back in the 1990s. It’s widely compatible and works on almost all devices. However, uncompressed AVI files can take up a lot of storage space.


Essentially Apple’s answer to AVI. MP4s are highly popular and are the recommended format on Youtube. For this reason MP4 files are both compatible in a number of settings without losing video quality. MP4s are also great for adding closed captions


WEBM is the Google version. Designed with websites in mind, WEBM files are great for their small size and therefore low storage usage. WEBM is completely royalty free and open source. The only slight drawback is that it isn’t compatible on all platforms, particularly on handheld devices.


Short for Flash Video Format, FLV is a container format designed for use together with Adobe Flash Player. It’s good for adding animation and interactive content to websites. That said, Flash has probably had its heyday. It’s used less and less thanks to newer faster alternatives, it’s costly, and is not supported by mobile software such as iOS.


WMV (Windows Media Video) was developed by Microsoft as a handy format for exporting content in micro size. Hence it is good for small file sizes that can be sent by email. This does, however, come at the cost of lower image quality. In addition, given its optimisation for Windows operating systems (hence its name), there are few other media players capable of running them.


Last but certainly not least are MOV or Quicktime files. Another Apple creation, it’s marketed as an easy to edit format. MOV’s scores at being simple, clean and user friendly. On the other hand, file sizes usually come out large. For this reason many favour its more compressed Apple successor, MP4.

Final thoughts

As you have probably discovered by now, there isn’t an “industry standard” of video formats. While some are more widely used and supported, others are favoured because of specific functions. As we also found out, most formats have been built by a software giant and therefore optimised for use on its products. That said formats such as AVI and MP4 will be around for many years to come, with MP4 a dominant format in social media.



Follow us

Featured blogs