For Colour Surge’s clients, I recommend that they host their new videos on Youtube. But why Youtube? Surely it’s the go-to site for hilarious ten second clips of people injuring themselves, and unending cat videos? Is it really the place for serious business video?
I say yes, and here are 9 great reasons why:
Hosting video on Youtube is free. Totally free. And you can’t argue with free! Whereas competing hosting sites like Vimeo have paid-for premium packages to get their full features, and with bespoke unbranded video streaming services you generally don’t get anything for free.
Of course, choosing a free service means there are certain restrictions – the most notable one for Youtube being the 15-minute video length limit – but generally a snappy, to-the-point business video needs to be much shorter than that anyway, to keep viewers’ attention. So, for a business on a budget, Youtube’s completely free service is a big plus.
2. Stream speed
When your potential client clicks to watch your video, what is the MOST crucial thing? Yes, it’s that the video starts playing quickly, and doesn’t get “stuck” midway through buffering. Otherwise, it may only take a few seconds of waiting before they become frustrated, click the Back button and head to one of your competitors’ sites.
Now, video buffering does depend in part on the user’s internet connection. You may have the fastest video streaming server on the net, but if your viewer’s sharing a network with someone downloading five movies at once and using up all the bandwidth, they’re going to be kept waiting for a long time before they can watch the whole video. But that’s not something we have control over. What we can do is make sure that the video is being streamed from the server as fast as possible, minimising the risk of slow buffering.
So, why Youtube? After all, won’t you get faster streaming if you pay for a bespoke service? Well, that depends on how much you are willing to spend – typical prices can be several hundred pounds a month! And don’t be tempted by the cheap options that are “hosted on your own webspace” – unless you have a very robust (and expensive!) website package, you won’t have the bandwidth and the speed to host video properly. I’ve seen very glossy websites that look great – but when I clicked to play their unbranded videos, the stream spluttered and struggled to play. This failure obviously reflected back onto the company concerned.
Compare this with Youtube, which has phenomenal bandwidth – it is the internet’s third most visited site, after Google and Facebook. It serves more than two billion videos a day!
But why do these bespoke services cost so much? Well, actually, that’s what streaming video costs – it’s very bandwidth hungry, and bandwidth is expensive! It just so happens that Youtube’s owners Google are, in effect, paying this fee for you. Why? More on that later, in point 4.
To sum up, unless you have a large enough budget to pay for expensive bespoke streaming solutions, Youtube is the best choice for a fast stream.
3. Integration with Google search
Youtube is officially the world’s second largest search engine (and the largest video site on the internet) – as long ago as December 2009, there were 2,905,000,000 Youtube search queries in a single month – and it has only kept growing. And because Google owns Youtube (since 2006), all the videos on Youtube are indexed by Google and pop up in search results. Just try searching for Colour Surge Media, and you’ll see my Youtube videos right there on page one, a few results down.
If you decided on a bespoke video solution, is it available in a format that Google’s bots will see and index? With Youtube, that’s not a concern – it’s always included.
4. Constant improvements
As mentioned in point 3, Youtube is the largest video site on the internet. And Google owns Youtube – Google, the world’s number one website, the internet powerhouse who have fingers in almost every pie – Google Apps, Gmail, Google Streetview, Google Earth – and so on. Google wants to be at the forefront of every aspect of the internet – just look at the recent successes of the browser they launched, Google Chrome.
Google is so determined to stay in the driving seat of online video, that they have been running Youtube at a loss ever since they bought it! Even now, it’s estimated that Youtube costs Google $1 million a day to run.
But this determination of Google’s pays off for users. In the last few years, Google has repeatedly upgraded the quality of its videos, first adding “High Quality” mode, then 720p, and more recently adding full 1080p HD playback. Despite these improvements in resolution, bitrate is also important. As recently as this time last year, Vimeo had a clear advantage in bitrate and thus quality over Youtube – but then Youtube raised their game once more, improved the bitrate of all their streams (even 360p and 480p started looking great!), and removed the advantage of hosting with their competitors.
And as things stand, it looks like Google will continue this march of progress and continual upgrades, making hosting your videos on their site a sound future investment – all for free.
5. Resolutions and transcoding
Youtube now has a great range of playback resolutions – three variants on SD – 240p, 360p, 480p – and two HD, 720p and 1080p (if you want to know what the difference is between SD and HD, check out this blogpost).
This means that, as long as you upload your content at a high enough resolution (720p or 1080p), viewers can choose between up to five different resolutions – they can control the quality of the stream. If they’re on a low bandwidth connection or a small screen, like you’d find on a mobile, they can stream your video fast at 240p. If they’re viewing it on a large computer screen or TV, with a high speed connection, they can choose to watch in HD. This variety of resolution options is unequalled in Youtube’s competitors.
And what’s more, Youtube does this all automatically for you. I’ve seen bespoke video providers talking about which format you provide them with, and choosing one delivery format. With Youtube, you don’t need to worry – simply give them a high quality original file, and Youtube’s servers automatically transcode it into multiple different resolutions, and even different formats – Flash, HTML5, h264 or WebM. Youtube worry about standards and delivery methods, so you don’t have to.
Another brilliant tool Youtube offers you for free will seem familiar to anyone who’s used Google analytics. If you’re logged into a Youtube account, and have clicked on the “View comments, related videos, and more” link under the video, you’ll see a little graph button by the bit of text telling you the video’s number of views. Click it, and you’re presented with a wealth of information, telling you statistics about who has watched your video, what link they came from, and even what age demographic they’re in and where they’re from!
These tools can be invaluable to tell where your views are coming from, and so how worthwhile the various avenues that you’ve been promoting your video on are. And here’s the main point – they’re all provided for free, whereas to get tools like this on Vimeo, you have to have a paid account.
7. Upload limits
This is a simple one. Youtube has no account upload limits – you can host as many videos as you want, and upload them as fast as you want. The only limit is a per-video 2GB cap – but unless you’re trying to upload a full fifteen minutes of DV or HDV footage without compressing it to something more sensible (say, h.264 or WMV) that limit’s not going to be a problem.
With Vimeo, a free account gets you just 500MB a week of uploads – and only one of those can be an HD video! Even with a paid account, you’re limited to 5GB of uploads a week.
And with bespoke video streaming solutions, there may not be limits on uploads, but there are often limits on how much streaming bandwidth you can use per month. And again, you’ll be paying for it.
Once again, Youtube comes out clearly ahead, providing a superior service free when its competitors charge for less.
8. Social networking tools
Youtube also features basic social networking tools – viewers can subscribe to your videos, leave you comments or even become “friends” with you. Subscriptions are especially worthwhile – when you post new videos, subscribers can be emailed or notified on their Youtube front page, encouraging them to keep engaging with your content (and hopefully acting on whatever your “call to action” is).
Similar tools are featured on Vimeo, but being a more niche site, people are less likely to have heard of it and want to sign up. And with bespoke streaming solutions, there are no social networking tools, cutting out another way for viewers to connect with your company.
9. Easy embedding
Finally, point nine. It’s very, very easy to embed a Youtube video on your website, on a forum post or signature, and almost anywhere else. Simply click on the Embed button under the video, copy and paste it (making sure that whatever editor you’re using is in HTML mode). That’s it!
So, between all nine of these points, I hope you can see that Youtube really is a great choice to host your webvideos on!
If you want to start getting videos of your business up on the web and featured on your website, I include setting up a channel and uploading your video in my £100 starter package. For more details, please get in contact.