What is the best video hosting solution for your business?

Undoubtedly when people think of online video the first thing that springs to mind is YouTube. With Google being the largest online search engine and it’s close links with YouTube, YouTube is often referred to as the 2nd largest search engine.

However in recent years a number of excellent alternatives have emerged in the video hosting market. Many of these services offer extra features and benefits not readily available on YouTube.

So which hosting platform is the best for your business?

I know most readers would like a simple answer but the reality is that each platform has it’s own pros and cons which need to be considered with respect to your video marketing goals.

Below we have outlined some of the pros and cons of different video solutions.

YOUTUBE

Good for high viewer numbers and brand awareness.

PROS

Cost you can’t beat free. Youtube is free to upload and watch videos. With no cost and basic knowledge it is simple to upload an unlimited number of videos, set-up a company channel and add include some branding/logs.

SEO features – many believe that being owned by Google means YouTube videos may rank higher in search results. (not necessarily the case however the jury is still out on this one)

Sharing – very easy to share videos to social media sites and other outlets.

Popularity – with a reach of over 1 billion unique viewers every month YouTube is by far the most popular video hosting platform on the web. It’s close links with Google also make it a necessity to include in any video marketing campaign.

Advertising – YouTube has a number of solutions available for businesses wishing to advertise their brands. These include video-ads, in-video ads, linking to other videos and promoted videos.

Keyword Research – real time suggestions are displayed when searching. This can give you an idea of what viewers are searching for.

CONS

Customisation – in general youtube is limited in it’s customisation features. Player colours, logos, thumbnail options, youtube logo

Advertising – little control over ads. Youtube offers your competition the opportunity to advertise around your video. These can be in the pre-roll ads, promoted videos and related videos

Customer Service – if you have a problem or request it is not uncommon for your email to go unanswered. Phone calls? sorry not going to happen….

Limited Analytics – analytics are available however they are limited compared to other solutions and not as intuitive as other providers

Blocked – many companies block access to YouTube (along with Facebook & Myspace) on the assumption that employees may be wasting time on these sites.

Trolls – one of the best features is the comments section. This allows conversations and the ability to engage with customers/fans. Unfortunately it also opens up the possibility of trolls and spammers putting up irrelevant links and distracting attention away from your video

ALTERNATIVE VIDEO SOLUTIONS (eg. Vimeo, Wistia, Vidyard)

Good for Brand engagement and marketing.

There are a large number of alternative video solutions with a range of features. Our favourites include vimeo, wistia and vidyard. Each offering a range of packages and services from free (limited features) up to enterprise solutions.

PROS

Made for Business – no ads, white label options, better customer service, integration with other services such as dropbox for uploading.

Perception – the clean look of the video players is often considered more “professional”.

Quality – videos are less compressed and appear more vibrant and clear than YouTube.

Marketing Features – the ability to add email gates (requiring an email to unlock the video) and Call-To-Actions is almost worth the price alone. Great for increasing conversions.

Control – much greater control over the look, colour and feel of the player. Easier to embed and brand with company colours, logo, thumbnails

Analytics – Abilitiy to A/B test, more extensive analytics allow you to understand why and how your videos are performing, what needs tweaking, where viewers stop watching etc.

CONS

Viewers – lower number of viewers. High view numbers on popular sites tend to be favoured by search engines. In theory, videos hosted on alternative platforms may rank lower than videos on more popular platforms.

Pay for Features – limited features available for FREE. Best options only available on paid accounts.

Cost – free plans include limited number of videos (eg. Wistia only allows 3 videos on the free plan). Plans vary from $20-300 per month or more to obtain all features.

Distribution – although vimeo is the exception, other platforms such as wistia or vidyard can be slightly more complicated to implement on some sites

SUMMARY

When choosing which platform to use it is important to consider the goal of your marketing plan (brand awareness vs conversion), the types of videos you produce, your target audience and your budget.

Overall, a good video strategy will generally include a combination of YouTube and private video hosting to gain the maximum benefits of online video marketing.