If you are posting videos on the web, you have to host them somewhere. Video content can be anything from an hour-long webinar to a 30-second teaser (but GIFs would work as an image). The hosting platform you use will have a significant impact on the ROI of the video. And yes, even if you can’t track the video to direct sales, it is about marketing and ROI.
This article will review the main hosting option and will offer practical recommendations.
TL;DR: You need to host your videos. YouTube is a good solution by default. Use a platform to gain you greater control to drive the customer journey on your website. Don’t bother with Vimeo unless you are a filmmaker.
Technically, you can host a video directly on your website. HTML5 makes it easy, and you can upload a video like a picture. You can also use plugins. However, this is generally not a good option. It will slow the site down and may not play properly.
All social platforms allow uploading videos directly (aka natively). It is then hosted on the platform and can be embedded or linked elsewhere. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin have an easy embed option.
If you want to have a look: this page will show you how the same video will look embedded in your website across different social platform.
Linkedin works fine but it has constraints: a maximum of 10 minutes and 300MB for adverts. It still gives you plenty of scope. A good trick to keep in mind in the B2B space: if you mainly use Linkedin and post videos there you can use it as a free hosting platform and embed videos from there to your website.
To YouTube or not to YouTube
That is the question.
YouTube offers free hosting, is the second most visited website after its parent Google and also the second search engine. It plays smoothly everywhere, is mobile-friendly, provides interactive features that can link directly to your website. The analytics are very detailed. It’s made for video.
YouTube has a lot to offer, and it is free.
That doesn’t mean that your videos will stand out. Growing an audience on YouTube is hard. My channel “Fintechorama” just passed 5,000 subscribers and it looks like it is accelerating. But here is a chart that depicts the experience.
The dots represent months; there are lots of them. And many include experiments that barely moved the dot. Growing on YouTube with technical B2B content is for another blog. With regards to hosting: Nobody should get fired for using YouTube.
Reasons not to use YouTube
YouTube is very good at keeping people on YouTube
Over 16 years, YouTube has transformed distraction into a science; its algorithm is made for that. “Watch time” is the primary measure of performance and is based on the video that starts the session. It is engineered to make you stay on YouTube, not to get your prospects to contact you.
Focus on other platforms
If you are not on YouTube yet but you are making efforts to build your Instagram or Linkedin followers, it’s a good idea to keep all your content on there. Rather than using YouTube as a dumping ground, find ways to adapt the videos for the platforms you are already using. Direct your audience to a focal point (see embedding options above).
The firewalls of financial institutions block YouTube
It seems YouTube won’t play at most banks. I’m wondering how much this has changed now that we are mostly working from home, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Control & Privacy
If you want to restrict access; determine how the video will appear; keep people engaged on your website; guide them to a resource. Then YouTube is not the best option. This is particularly important when you go deeper into the “funnel”. You want to remove friction or distraction. If you increase your Click-Through-Rate from video to a gated content from 0.5% to 1%, you increase your leads by 100%. This is an important reason to consider YouTube alternatives.
The alternatives to YouTube and social media are business video hosting platforms, working as Typical SaaS. Many offer a freemium option, but they are not free.
Here is a list of established players that we’ve reviewed recently:
All the above will cover the basics and more: analytics, social features, easy embed, limit buffering, live capabilities. They usually provide a page with a list of features and pricing. However, despite the apparent transparency as soon as you go a bit deeper, it is becoming harder to navigate the mix of pricing, features and hosting capacity.
Brightcove had to be contacted by email. Below is their response.
This email from Brightcove (starting at $2,388) shows there is a great variance in price.
I also signed up to a couple of them platforms before realising that the features were not right for the long term.
The platform we ended up choosing is Sprout Video (no affiliation).
The main differentiators were:
User experience: clean branding, easy to embed
Analytics: to understand precisely how the content is consumed
Call-To-Action: This is key to reduce friction. Instead of “contact us email@example.com for more information” (CTR = 0.01%?), add an interactive one-click link on the video (CTR = 1%)
Why not Vimeo?
Vimeo deserves a mention, as its the most used YouTube alternative. It’s also the cheapest starting at £6/month (vs $25 for Sprout Video), so you may consider the tradeoff.
However, Vimeo lacks analytics and lead generation features (at least in the cheaper options). Here’s a slide from a presentation by Video Strategist Phil Nottingham.
Vimeo was built for filmmakers, and it is a great tool for them. It used to be one of my favourite tools for recruiting videographers. I haven’t done that in over a year.
You may have different criteria. There are many platforms, and they vary a lot. It’s easy to sign up but it’s not convenient to upload and download GigaBits of content. If you are a heavy user, you should consider your options carefully and do some due diligence before moving all your content.
That’s hosting sorted. What else do I need?
Hosting is an important step in the workflow. But it’s just one step.
Others include editing, optimizing for search, thumbnails, adding CTAs, creating subtitles, storing in a way that makes it easy to retrieve a quote a year after the video was posted.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just a one-off but as soon as you start posting regular video content, the workflow becomes time-consuming and expensive as it requires other tools.
For those who plan to produce and post regular video content but don’t have the time to go through everything it takes to maximize the ROI, we offer fully managed hosting solutions starting from £150/month.