Video hosting: The YouTube vs. Vimeo choice, about control and mobile distribution

What makes a marketing video successful? Most of the big factors have little to do with the technology, and instead are editorial and promotional in nature: The script, production, talent, and promotion/distribution.

My focus here is on a more mundane issue: where to host the video. That is, where does the video file “live”. A video can be embedded into your website, but be hosted by another company like YouTube or Vimeo. (Nearly all of your customers won’t notice the difference, and those that do won’t care.)

First off, don’t host video yourself. The difference in functionality between your own homegrown video player and service level versus Vimeo vastly exceeds the minimal cost of hosting.

There are some key differences between the two best hosting services, YouTube and Vimeo. I’m a fan of the latter for most B2B situations.

YouTube vs. Vimeo

Branding. If you embed a YouTube video on your site, you’ll see the YouTube watermark in the lower-right hand corner. That’s a bit of a distraction for your customers, and can cheapen the look somewhat. Vimeo offers a paid tier of service permitting you to remove their “V” logo.

 

vimeoViewership Control. All YouTube videos, if clicked when playing, sends the user to the video’s page at YouTube.com. That’s another potential distraction. If you’re using video on a landing page, where conversion is essential, don’t give prospects this kind of side door. Vimeo’s paid tier doesn’t have this click-away feature.

Privacy. Sometimes you want only a selection of people to see a video, if you’re sharing proprietary or competitive information. Examples include videos for an intranet, or an outside sales force extranet. Vimeo is the way to go here; you can prevent anyone from seeing a video except if they’re on a certain site. YouTube’s methods for limiting access are imperfect for business use.

Virality. Generally, YouTube is the choice for consumer-facing videos, since their reach is 10X that of Vimeo. Your video is much more likely to be encountered by people watching related videos, which means more traffic.

Cost. YouTube is free but has one set of features for everyone. Vimeo’s paid tier is $60 per year.

Mobile. Until last week, this was a major competitive difference between the two hosts. YouTube’s market power earned it perfect integration in the iPhone from Day 1. Vimeo, whose video player was Flash-based and thus nonfunctional on the iPhone, was left out in the cold. Yet on August 17, Vimeo finally upgraded their player code; now their videos work on iPhones and Android devices.


youtubeVideo Duration
. YouTube videos are limited to 10 minutes (July 2010 UPDATE: It’s now 15 minutes. Dec 2010 UPDATE - Now even longer…), which won’t work for long presentations or training material. Vimeo has a rather commodious filesize limit, so you can do very long videos.

Measurement. Both hosts have a solid set of metrics. Vimeo counts the number of times a video is watched in its entirety.

Takeaway

At the risk of oversimplifying, B2B companies are generally better off hosting their videos at Vimeo, and firms selling to consumers should probably start with YouTube.