If you’ve ever hung out with a few video gurus, you’ve probably encountered the intense arguments over YouTube and Vimeo—which is better? And what about Wistia, a lesser known yet viable contender? Where can it play a role? What looks nicer? Which option is more user friendly?
Listening to tech talk gets you thinking—is there a marketing advantage to using one of the Internet’s three main video hosting options? Loyalists to either will say yes, but let’s evaluate the pros and cons.
From a content marketing standpoint, the variables to consider are pretty simple. More often than not, you want to optimize view count, simplify accessibility, retain strong aesthetics, and use a player that can handle videos of multiple types.
A Look at YouTube
When it comes to online video, a good standard to examine first is YouTube because it has the most content and the most viewers of any video host on the Web. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and almost 5 billion videos are watched every single day. Wow, right?!
However, as a tool, you have to ask: How does YouTube’s functionality meet your needs? By default, there is a 15 minute limit for each video. You can upload longer videos, but the process for doing so is cumbersome. Another consideration is whether YouTube’s massive on-page community really matters when you just want to have viewers watch the video while it's embedded on your blog or website. Conversely, are you trying to attract a larger audience to a social YouTube account with specialized playlists and interactive content? Let’s assume that the ultimate goal is to get people to your website.
With these considerations in mind, here are the Pros and Cons of using YouTube to host your videos.
#1: YouTube has an audience of more than 1.3 billion people, which means you might be able to draw a higher number of people to your videos. However, with more audience, there’s also a huge pile of content (both good and bad) being uploaded to YouTube at a constant rate. One video can easily become a needle in a haystack. However, such a big audience is hard to ignore, and if you make a strong promotional attack, you can really take advantage. Overall, YouTube’s audience is a definite Pro.
#2: Like most Google services, YouTube is 100% free to use, with unlimited uploads and full customization. Because it's owned by Google, the search function is pretty robust, too. There’s plenty of options as far as organization goes; users can create channels and playlists while sharing videos effortlessly. However, there is a tendency for YouTube to lose aesthetic appeal with a cluttered interface and high number of advertisements. These downsides are definite cons for YouTube.
#3: Of course, if you have the money, the advertising options on YouTube are endless. Rather than using YouTube as a content marketing option, you can easily make it into a tool for strong advertising if you want to pay to make it happen. Businesses, nonprofits and public campaigns are using YouTube as a proxy for television advertising, so if that’s what you’re looking for, YouTube’s huge audience, is yet again a big Pro.
#4: Since 2005, YouTube’s videos have been embedded across the web. Now, the overall aesthetic of YouTube’s player is familiar to most users. Although the jury is out on whether the YouTube player affects view count, designers might have something to say about how the ever-present YouTube logo affects your branding. This isn't necessarily a pro or con—just something to consider.
As one blogger put it, as YouTube is to New York, Vimeo is to Portland—and Portland is a hipster’s paradise. The point here is that Vimeo has a niche audience and by some, it’s deemed as the countercultural option to YouTube.
#1: Vimeo has taken a bite out of YouTube’s market dominance, but it currently has only 715 million views per month. While it's gained some ground in recent years, this makes the viral-potential of any video much lower.
#2: Vimeo has a much cleaner aesthetic appeal in almost every aspect of its interface. The user experience of Vimeo is at a completely different level from YouTube—everything is organized, easily searched, and it all feels like an artistic portfolio. In addition, the quality of video production on Vimeo tends to be higher and there’s absolutely no limit on the length of videos being uploaded. This is all part of Vimeo’s appeal as an artistic community versus the anything-goes approach of YouTube. These qualitative points make Vimeo a pro on aesthetics.
#3: With all its artistic emphasis, Vimeo fits into a much more niche audience, centered on good film making and inspiring videos. Removed is all the commercial, gaming, and non-user-generated content. The community tends to be a more professional crowd, made up of filmmakers and film enthusiasts. Some compare YouTube to Facebook and Vimeo to LinkedIn, giving Vimeo a more refined vibe that gets filtered throughout its approach to video hosting. Again, this is a Pro for businesses focusing on B2B outreach.
#4: Vimeo’s embedded player stands in stark contrast to YouTube. The argument for Vimeo is that they’ve designed their player to seem more like third party or native media players than an embedded player. The design is made to highlight content rather than any sort of Vimeo branding, so you can expect to see it used more and more in the future. Although YouTube’s isn’t bad, Vimeo has the advantage here. And, while there is a free version, if you plan on uploading a lot of content, you'll need to choose from three paid plans for the service. For some, the refined look and absence of annoying advertising and cluttered appearance is worth it.
What About Wistia?
While its subscribers and viewership pale in comparison to YouTube or Vimeo, Wistia brings some extremely valuable functionality to the table, and it should be seriously considered as a viable video platform.
#1: Marketers are all about metrics and conversion rates, and this is where Wistia shines. The platform has robust analytics tools that can tell you where people are from, where they click, and even track where in a video someone stopped watching—giving you insight into creating engaging content in the future. It's also great at lead generation, allowing call to actions (CTAs) that guide viewers to sign up for emails and it offers gating capabilities that require someone to enter an email opt-in prior to viewing. In addition, the platform can be integrated with most popular marketing software including HubSpot and Marketo. The advanced analytics function of Wistia is a definite pro.
#2: If branding is important to you, Wistia offers a customizable video player where you can even change the color of the play button and video player controls to your branded palette. You can fully control the viewing experience. Overall, the look is clean and inviting without the clutter and distraction of unnecessary ads, banners or graphics.
#3: Customers rave about Wistias support staff and some have even touted them as "insanely responsive, friendly and helpful." Not only are their employees super helpful, the site itself has an abundance of online tutorials and resources (in video format, of course), and their helpful guides intuitively walk you through how to make your videos look and perform their best. There is a cost to using Wistia beyond their free trial, but the functionality and support it offers are great selling points. If support is important to you, Wistia makes a case for being the best platform.
Which is Right For You?
The choice between the three will likely not be detrimental to your content marketing strategy, but you'll likely find one suited to your personal user preference and desire for viewer data. As you look to make nuanced choices about drawing the right audience, you might find one that works better than the other. And it's not unheard of to host videos on multiple platforms depending on their functions. If you’re among the billions of people using YouTube, try using Vimeo or Wistia for a change to see if you increase engagement.
The key with all video content is to make it popular by integrating it with a strong social media presence. Learn more about optimizing your social media with our "Social Media Optimization Playbook."
Topics: Content Marketing
Tammy Borden is a copywriter at Weidert Group. With a lengthy background in insurance marketing and nonprofits, Tammy has in-depth knowledge of digital content creation and writing for a variety of industries.