Video Hosting Sites: YouTube vs. Vimeo vs. Wistia

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  • 2/15/2018

    Placing a video on your website can be very simple:

    1. Upload it to your hosting service of preference. Under most circumstances, you can accomplish this free with YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia.
    2. Acquire an embed code for the video from the service. Embed codes, when added to the site’s HTML, allow the video hosting service to insert the video on the page.

    While this works, it may not work well for your specific goals. The simplicity of this approach comes with drawbacks, which are slightly different depending on which service you use.

    Differences between hosting services

    YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia all seem similar on the surface. Each of them allows you to upload and embed videos. However, these services are slightly different because they’re intended for different purposes.

    YouTube includes branding on its embedded player in the form of its color palette or its logo. Additionally, if you’re monetizing your videos presented through the YouTube interface, YouTube will monetize embedded videos as well with no way for you to create a distinction. YouTube is sometimes blocked by organizations seeking to improve security or productivity because it’s also a social media platform. This causes videos embedded on other sites from YouTube to also become blocked.

    Vimeo limits you to 500 megabytes per week of uploads with up to five gigabytes of total storage on its free plan. Upgrading to one of its other plans – $7, $20 or $50 per month – increases this limit by a substantial amount for each tier. The top two plans allow customization of the video player’s branding.

    Wistia limits you to three videos for its free plan and also places its branding on the video player. Upgrading to the Pro plan for $99 per month removes the branding and adapts the pricing structure to 25 cents per video per month after 10 free videos.

    Beyond a simple embed

    Each of the three services above support the most popular kind of video embed code, a style which relies on a technology called iframes. While these are simple to use for marketers, they’re not particularly powerful. All of these services provide some level of customization to the iframe-based players, which you can leverage by editing the embed code. For example, to remove the video information and logo from a YouTube video, you could make these edits to the embed code:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AVs59ddkzuQ?showinfo=0&modestbranding=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Involving developers can greatly increase the possibilities for video these services host. Beyond the simple ability to embed iframes with limited customization, these services offer tools to developers called APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), which developers can use to apply videos to your site in more sophisticated and impressive ways. If you believe you need a faster more robust video delivery system, you can also consider premium services like Brightcove.

    There are also situations in which hosting the video files yourself and having developers build a player using HTML5 may be appropriate. Depending on the hosting you use, this may not give you the fastest speed or the most features, but it may be cost-effective if the use case is simple and the infrastructure is already at your disposal. This approach also gives developers the greatest control over factors affecting the user experience.

    Video service choices affect search engine optimization

    The immediate user experience isn’t the only reason to include video on your site. Video search can drive users to your content and your brand. Google is now indexing and putting embedded videos in the Videos results tab on its results page, but these results are primarily dominated by YouTube.

    YouTube is much more likely to generate a link from a user or publication because it’s one of the most-searched platforms for video. However, this can sometimes cause users to leave your site and browse on YouTube instead. To minimize the likelihood of that, you can specify rel=0 in the embed code.

    We can help you choose wisely for your content, goals and budget

    If you have questions about the best strategy for including video on your website, reach out to thunder::tech. Our integrated approach combines insights from multimedia specialists, marketing optimization analysts, user experience designers and web developers to devise recommendations that consider every aspect of your organization’s unique challenges and goals.

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