YouTube, Vimeo & Self Hosting Videos: What Option Should You Use?
July 1, 2019
Way back at the very beginning of this blog I spoke about the importance of video content when it came to search engine optimisation. What I didn’t discuss at the time was how to host these videos, and that is exactly what I will be doing in this article.
Firstly there are several players in the market when it comes to video hosting and if you’re running a site that depends on videos then there are other solutions for you that are not mentioned in this post. This post is designed to help the average company who wants to put promotional, training or even testimonial videos on their website.
YouTube is the world’s most well known and most used video streaming service behind Netflix. YouTube accounts for around 15% of all web bandwidth.
So, lets look at the three primary options you have when it comes to video hosting.
- Self Hosted
It should come as a surprise to anybody that YouTube has made this list, in fact it is the most used video platform on the market, second only to Netflix.
YouTube: easy video hosting, has the ability to restrict videos so that they can only be embedded or viewed by someone with the specific unique URL; however this does leave the videos open to being shared and one person making all videos available for viewing, as well as having the videos downloadable. YouTube has the ability to monetise and demonetise videos depending on personal preference.
Vimeo: would require a Plus, Pro or Business account in order to restrict video viewing and provides a better solution for a high level of control. Vimeo has privacy settings for videos allowing the user to restrict videos so that it cannot be watched on Vimeo and can only be embedded onto specific URLs. Like YouTube, Vimeo gives the ability to demonetise videos. Unlike YouTube though, Vimeo has a restriction on storage space, limiting the number of videos that can be uploaded to an account.
Self Hosted: this would be hosting your videos on the same server the rest of your website is hosted on. This option does offer the most customisation and control over the videos, however, it would also affect the website’s bandwidth drastically. When you consider that often standard packages for hosting include 500mb, 1000mb or sometimes 10gb of storage and bandwidth, and that the average 1 minute video is approximately 10mb (compressed), you would be looking at 50 minutes, 100 minutes, 17 hours respectively, before reaching the allowed bandwidth. While there are definitely hosting plans out there that allow for greater storage capacity and a larger monthly bandwidth allowance, this is still a major consideration.
How it all Works
Self Hosted Video:
I’ll start with self-hosting first as this option is generally not recommended by any means due to the reasons discussed above. Essentially the website would require a video player plugin which allows video files to be played directly on the site. Once the plugin is installed video content that has been uploaded to the server can be added as content like an image. On the live site a visitor would be able to play the video if they wish, or ignore the content. Alternatively some plugins will allow autoplay, meaning the video will automatically start playing when the page is loaded.
While this gives you, the owner and webmaster, full control over the video and how it is played the downside of self hosting the videos means that the load speed of the website can be drastically decreased as every time the page is loaded, the video also needs to be loaded. This in turn causes data capping, mentioned above. Self hosting means every video and every view is consuming the data limit and bandwidth allocated to you and your website each month. Having a lot of self hosted video content essentially drastically increases your hosting bill, it’s that simple.
Using YouTube’s Video Player
YouTube is the world’s most well known and most used video streaming service behind Netflix. YouTube accounts for around 15% of all web traffic/bandwidth. Owned and operated by Google this video hosting platform has become a major source of revenue for a large number of individuals and companies around the world.
Videos uploaded to YouTube are hosted by Google, on Google servers in a data centre. There is a short Google video about this, hosted on YouTube, that can be watched here: https://youtu.be/avP5d16wEp0. YouTube provides a wealth of information and control over videos and settings outlined below.
Once a YouTube account is created you have access to the analytics for that account, one the basic level they show you, for a given timeframe, the number of views, minutes watched and number of subscribers gained, as shown in the image to the right.
If you monetise the videos uploaded to YouTube this feed also displays the estimated revenue for the channel. When it comes to uploading new content and videos you have the option to set videos to have one of 4 privacy options:
Public, meaning that the video will go live as soon as it’s published and can be found in Google and YouTube searches. Also any subscribers who have signed up for notifications will be alerted of the new video going live.
Unlisted, this means the video goes live but will not be searchable and subscribers will not be notified. Only individuals with the direct URL are able to view, embed or download the video.
Private, this is for video storage more than anything and means that only the owner of the video can view the content.
Scheduled, this setting is the same as the Public setting but allows the owner to set a date and time for the video to go live.
Once uploaded the user can go through various settings such as the YouTube video name, description, add the video to a playlist and choose a thumbnail. Then there are more advanced settings such as translations, creative licenses and so forth. Finally there is the monetisation settings. These allow the owner to select how advertisements, if any, are displayed or played on their videos.
It is important to note that a user needs to have monetisation enabled and connected to an Adwords/Adsense account before this option is even available.
YouTube’s inbuilt editor also allows for some customisations and enhancements to be made to the videos using the below options:
Enhancements allows for changing white balance and lighting of a vide. Audio allows for adding audio/music tracks to a video, End Screen and Annotations as well as Cards is for the creation of clickable links on the video.
Music: this is an extremely important part of YouTube as Google uses an algorithm to review and detect the content of videos. While this is used to filter out videos that are deemed to display and promote hate, racism, criminal activities and overly sexual content, the same algorithm also reviews videos for copyrighted content.
Videos that are deemed to breach copyright rules will be flagged and displayed in a section under the video manager tab. These videos can be appealed and become subject to human review. However, two things happen with videos flagged for a breach of copyright on YouTube. Firstly the become demonetised and all monetisation options are removed for the uploader for this video. Secondly, in some cases the videos will become monetised in favour of the copyright owner. For example using copyrighted music or video content can cause this to happen. The details of each copyright claim can be found on the videos page by clicking “Copyright Claim”.
To avoid any copyright claims the videos uploaded should be clear of any footage taken from movies or television shows and not contain copyrighted music. YouTube does provide a library of copyright free music that can be used in videos.
Concerns: YouTube is currently demonetising a large amount of uploaded videos using a very similar algorithm to the ones mentioned above. Lately there have been a lot large companies pulling advertisements due to the lack of control they had over what videos their adverts were placed in front of.
This mixed with the fact monetisation needs to be enabled means the likelihood of advertisements being played before or during YouTube videos is close to non-existent. The only time this would happen is in the scenario mentioned above where a video is deemed to breach copyright.
Video with Vimeo
Vimeo is very similar to YouTube with the majority of its settings and functionality. Although there are a few more functions which have helped popularise it more for business and commercial use over personal.
The big downside of Vimeo is advertising material. The Vimeo platform may offer more functionality for businesses (defined below) but the advertising policy they have means advertisements are played by default after videos for users/viewers who are either logged out or on a basic account. The only way to combat this is to upgrade to the Plus, Pro or Business accounts and customise what Vimeo refer to as the “outro”. Once on a Plus, Pro or Business account and after having customised the outro, no advertisements will play on your videos.
The benefits of the paid Vimeo service is the additional business focused features including marketing campaigns and integrated apps. See the screenshots below:
On top of this Vimeo also offers a lot more control over the individual videos and the default settings in terms of privacy, such as the ability to block various levels of access to the video. This means you are able to set whether anyone can view your video, if it’s viewable on Vimeo or just via a particular URL or if it’s searchable. These settings are outline in the below screenshot:
The best video hosting solution depends heavily on your individual needs and the needs of your business, however, it rarely is beneficial to self host your own video content. For the average business running a small enterprise or one-man-band style company it’s likely the ideal solution is YouTube. Perhaps another major benefit here with YouTube is that it can help advertise your business online in another way. Lastly, for those who wish to restrict the access to their videos, such a large corporation training videos or for those who want to sell access to their videos, Vimeo is a wonderful solution.
Having said all of that, none of this means that you can’t use both Vimeo and YouTube, or even throw in a little self hosted video here and there.
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