By now, we all know the awesome marketing power of online video. Perhaps you’ve already got your own branded company YouTube channel, and you’ve got videos on your own company website too. But how are you hosting those videos? Are you embedding videos directly from your
YouTube channel? This is a great way to get videos on your company website quickly, but it has its limitations. Fortunately, there are many video hosting platforms that allow you to tailor the video viewing experience to your exact needs. Unfortunately, there are so many, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. This blog post will help you narrow your choices.
Embedding from YouTube
YouTube provides a simple, fast way to get videos to play on your own website. We’ve also covered this option in a previous blog post, Online Video Power! – 3: Video Hosting. First, as with any hosting service, upload your video to YouTube. Then, customize the video player as much as YouTube will allow (that’s the rectangle with the play/pause button and time remaining scroll bar). Now, to bring that video over from YouTube to your own company website, simply copy the “Embed Code” by clicking the “Share” button under your video, then the “Embed” button. A window will drop down with some HTML code to copy. This is your Embed Code. When you paste this piece of code into the full code of one of the pages on your own corporate site, that page will display a YouTube player window with your video, ready to view.
- Fast and easy
- Plays on pretty much anything – PCs, Macs, iOS and Android devices
- Familiar – YouTube is a trusted brand
- Player is “YouTube” branded, not private labeled with your brand
- Very limited ability to customize the look of the video player, including the “thumbnail” view – this is the image the viewer sees before clicking on the video to start viewing it – YouTube arbitrarily picks what it wants as your thumbnail. There are ways around this, but they are cumbersome.
Example of a ZUZA-produced video in a YouTube-branded player window
Vimeo: A fine free alternative
Vimeo gives you everything that YouTube does, plus the ability to customize the look of the player practically to your heart’s desire, including using any image you want for the video thumbnail. As with YouTube, simply copy and paste the embed code associated with your video from Vimeo to a page on your website to display the video.
Example: A ZUZA-produced video in a customized Vimeo player window
Like YouTube, Vimeo enables videos to be viewable on pretty much every desktop platform and mobile device out there. Best of all, Vimeo is free. But, for the very affordable price of $60 a year, you can step up to Vimeo Plus, which gives you:
- Upload up to 5 GB of video every week (versus 500 MB)
- Faster priority uploading
- Unlimited HD video (makes your videos look nice and crisp)
- Advanced statistics
- Better player customization
If your hosting needs are more robust still, you can opt for Vimeo Pro at $199 per year, which is still one of the least expensive paid options out there. This gives you robust storage space and video bandwidth for more intensive video viewership.
One caveat – and this is extremely minor: there are some savvy iPad users out there who may have installed a third party web browser to use instead of Safari. While Safari forces you to view the mobile version of a website when its available, other browsers give you the option to view web pages on the iPad exactly as they were designed for the desktop. Unfortunately, when Vimeo encounters a third party browser on the iPad which is set up to display pages in desktop mode, Vimeo doesn’t know this, and tries to feed you the mobile version of the video, which won’t play in the third party browser. This probably affects the tiniest fraction of your viewing audience, but it is something to keep in mind in case someone ever asks, “Why doesn’t your video play on my iPad?”
Otherwise, we can’t recommend Vimeo enough.
Sprout Video: A fine step up at a great price
Here at ZUZA, we had been hosting our videos on Vimeo when one of our marketing staff experienced the iPad third party browser issue first-hand. To make sure our videos would absolutely be viewable everywhere, we embarked on a search for the perfect low cost hosting service. We discovered a great service called SproutVideo, which has several low cost pricing plans and provides great flexibility to tailor the look and feel of the video player window.
Example: a ZUZA-produced video in a customized SproutVideo player window
Their entry level plan costs $10 per month, which includes 10 GB of bandwidth and 10 GB of storage a month, more than enough for the needs of smaller companies. The only thing it doesn’t offer is analytics. Every other plan, ranging from $25 to $750 per month, offers analytics and escalating amounts of bandwidth and storage. If viewership analytics are important to you, start with the $25/month plan (still a bargain by paid hosting standards). Otherwise, you can get your feet wet with the $10 plan and see how that does for you.
Another affordable provider worth considering is Wistia, which provides robust hosting, many features and extensive analytics in the same general price range as SproutVideo (but without a comparable entry level plan).
Step up to more robust paid services.
There are so many out there. VidCompare is a site that currently compares 72 of them, here ». Another blog has a nice infographic comparing four of the most popular larger platforms: Brightcove, Kaltura, Ooyala and Longtail Video. You can view the infographic here ». Sites like Brightcove, Kaltura and Ooyala promise robust hosting for hungrier bandwidth and storage needs, typically required by larger enterprise-scale companies. Longtail Video’s JW Player is not a service as much as a player that you (or your web team) can integrate into your own corporate website for videos you’re hosting on your own servers (versus hosting with a 3rd party like Brightcove or Vimeo). Longtail Video charges a very modest license fee to use the code for its player.
Which player is right for you? Generally speaking:
- Small business with under 50 videos and perhaps a few thousand views per month: Vimeo or SproutVideo (or, if you don’t mind the YouTube branding, then YouTube)
- Larger enterprise with hundreds of videos and tens of thousands of views (or higher) per month: one of the robust paid services
That is a very simplified summary. We encourage your team to conduct a detailed comparison of services, looking at:
- Price, of course
- Streaming speed – i.e. what kind of content delivery network (CDN) are they using to send videos around the world? You’ll want one that serves up video with the lowest possible delay during both slow times and peak times.
Whatever you do, if you’ve got marketing videos ready to go, get them up on YouTube and then choose your video hosting platform and get them on your site. Videos are a great source of content for increasing visitor engagement with your website, telling your story in the most compelling way, and providing value to buyers you are targeting with your lead nurturing programs (read our Marketer’s Blog post about lead nurturing here » ).
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.