Television is huge nowadays, even with the online videos being out there. It is the easiest way to transmit your message to people who are generally offline. The Hollywood industry is huge, even if video streaming is available all over the place on the internet – mostly for free. Even TV stations are moving to the internet today. This should give everybody an idea of how big video really is. Videos can make the current era more interactive and send different messages across in a more powerful, easier and effective way.
Videos can also go viral very easily. Good videos usually reach their targets quite fast through sharing and word of mouth. If you look closely at how many views viral videos have, you will be surprised. Think that all these viewers can be converted into customers.
With so many tutorials available on the internet, developing your own video should not be a big problem anymore. Moreover, if you have a background in video development, you know for sure its advantages over other media and would probably like to make the most of your skills. Regardless of the kind of background you have, a video is always something useful. It can be for advertising, for entertainment or for informing people about events, products from the branch or even news. But there is always a question after developing a video. Where should you host it?
First sight, it looks like YouTube should be the default choice. It looks much better than a self-hosted video competitor and gives you features that you normally should develop yourself. YouTube already has them installed and ready to go. It only takes a few seconds to set everything up. It is quite easy to follow all the intuitive steps and upload a video, add a description, fill in the title and even edit the video if you wish. Another advantage of YouTube is the speed of processing. You can have everything up and running in 10 minutes and you do not need any coding skills.
If you look deeper though, you will realize that YouTube has a huge disadvantage. Link baiting (content or feature within a website designed to gain attention or encourage others to link to a specific source) only works in YouTube’s favor, so they get all the fame. If you succeed in getting visitors to your webpage, you will have to somehow convince them to click on the links in the description. And let’s imagine you reach millions of views with your amazing viral video. You will probably be sorry for choosing to host it on YouTube.
But is it better to host it on your own server and display it with a custom player? Well you could do that, but first you need some coding skills. If you do not have them, YouTube is probably the best choice for you. If you have these skills however, it should not be a problem for you. But you can’t ignore the truth: self-hosting a video will require much more time and effort than just hosting it on YouTube.
Image by lusi
If you look at YouTube, it is supported by cloud computing software, it’s very fast even on slow internet connections and is tested against immersive attacks. Allowing millions of people all over the world to watch the British Royal Wedding without interruptions is something nobody has ever done before – and few will probably even take on the challenge. YouTube even has applications for iOS and Android, so watching a video from a portable device is quite easy as well.
If you reach success with your self-hosted video and will have millions of potential viewers, will you be able to ensure the same speed and quality? And how can you guarantee the server will be up all the time – will it be able to sustain such a huge amount of traffic? Remember Flash is not supported on iOS. How many people with an iPhone or an iPad will be able to show the video to their friends?
But let’s look at both YouTube and self-hosted possibilities and draw some conclusions.
The fact that you have full control over the video you host is very, very important. It is something you will not be able to enjoy on YouTube. This helps you preserve your copyright on the video and allows you to place permanent links to it. Moreover, the control is even bigger when you think of how nobody can delete it. Normally a video from a self-maintained host can’t be downloaded without a special ripper, which might not be so easy to find or use. And incorporating website analytics and tracking users actions is also something you will be able to do with a self-hosted video.
During the past couple of years YouTube started to add advertising on the videos hosted at them. This is something totally avoidable if you host your videos yourself. Keeping your visitors far from ads that could distract them is a key decision. The users will be able to watch your videos without having to worry about an ad popping on their screens.
The traffic your videos will bring in is totally yours. No more fame for YouTube based on your skills and money. Moreover, link baiting is something that will work great on your site. If your video is successful, your link will be shared all over the place.
While YouTube’s design is pretty OK, you will be able to design your own player if you host your video yourself. You can make something which is more web-friendly by using HTML5 Video Converters, so that different portable devices can access the file too.
Buying a quality host with 99.9% uptime will not be cheap. If you do not have big plans with your website, it might not be worth investing the money into such a product.
As mentioned above, you will need some serious coding skills to be able to develop a video embedding software. You could, however, also use something like Video Lightbox, but your control over its functionality will be limited.
Speed is very important nowadays. It is more or less impossible to load a video on your host as fast as you would load it on YouTube. And if two thousand of people want to watch your video at the same time, you are in for troubles. The video will freeze or will simply be unavailable. This will annoy people and will reduce the chances of them seeing it through. There is a quite high risk of not being able to send your message across.
Self-hosted videos can limit your exposure. If you host it on YouTube, you will be found through the search box or through the “similar videos” feature. This is inexistent on your own host.
In a Nutshell – Pros and Cons of Self-Hosted Videos
- Full control over your video
- No one can simply take it down at their own whim, like a lot of original YouTube videos being taken down by erroneous DMCA complaints
- Can’t be downloaded easily
- You have the option to add advertisements, or avoid popups like YouTube has
- Traffic goes directly to your website
- You get to design your own player
- Not cheap
- You will need to know how to code
- Hosting the video will be an issue when thousands begin to stream simultaneously
- Limited exposure
For hosting a video on YouTube you will have to pay nothing. Money is very important for a start-up company. Being able to find such a high-quality, free solution is definitely tempting. You can simply upload the video on YouTube and embed it on your website and the problem is solved. YouTube will take care of all the duties and it guarantees your video will be up incredibly close to 100% of the time.
The audience on YouTube is huge, with more than 800 million unique visitors each month. That’s more than 10% of the world’s population. Even people who’ve never heard of your website or company have high chances to watch your video. And if they like it, they will share it on social media. Thanks to relevant searches and keywords you use, you will also be shown in related videos. It is so easy for a relevant video to get views on YouTube.
People also trust YouTube videos much more than any self-hosted one, simply because of its reputation, which has grown even bigger since Google acquired the US giant.
The video servers of Google are top-notch, probably the best in the world. Google also invests millions of dollars into the infrastructure and develops video delivery technologies. YouTube is a trendsetter. Therefore videos have to load quickly. And they do! There is no reason in quitting YouTube because a video is slow to load. There is no such thing.
As mentioned in the first part of the article, no coding skills are required to host a video on YouTube. You don’t have to know anything about scripts, players, codecs, flash or HTML5. You upload the video and in a matter of (few) minutes you can already watch it. It can’t be easier than on YouTube.
There is unfortunately no control over your own video. The moment you upload it on YouTube, it is Google’s. If somebody complains about it, it can get removed quite fast, so you have to make sure your video does not interfere with any Google law or rule. Your videos can also be downloaded by everybody using an online ripper – this is quite easy to do. You only need the link and to know how to click on the download button.
Some videos may even be geo-restricted or blocked, so not available all over the world. And although YouTube advertises an almost perfect uptime, it is indeed just “almost”. If something happens to their servers, then for a probably short period of time the videos will not be available.
Seeing all those YouTube ads is annoying sometimes. Google usually makes a good profit out of popular videos by adding an advertising when the users play it. And they have no plans to share the money with you. And if you look at the problem from a user’s point of view, it is quite bugging for some of them to have a video interrupted by an ad they may not be even interested in.
By hosting a video at YouTube, you will also lose a lot of traffic, as explained earlier. Every bit of it will go to them. And users can also get distracted quite fast by related videos. Potential customers can be lost very fast, so you have to be aware of this and develop a video that will keep their interest and attention.
On YouTube there is a very small choice of layouts for the players. Sure, many times the design does not matter, as users watch a video and move on. But sometimes a customized design could be very useful. YouTube does not help you here at all.
In a Nutshell – Pros and Cons of Hosting Videos on YouTube
- Totally free
- Easy to embed on websites
- 100% uptime
- Huge audience, with more than 800 million uniques each month
- No coding required
- Not safe from being taken down
- Can easily be downloaded by people
- Regional restrictions
- Pop-up advertisements
The conclusion is not so clear this time, as it depends very much on a webmaster’s needs and preferences. I prefer to host all the videos I develop on YouTube. It is so easy and I do not want to use many hours for coding when I’ve already used many for developing the video. But it might just be me… and millions other users. :-)
What do you think about hosting a video on YouTube? Have you ever hosted a video on your own website? How good/bad an experience was that?
Christian Vasile is an enthuziastic Romanian web designer currently living in Denmark. He is passionate for the industry and writes about design, usability, coding and freelancing and is a regular publisher here at 1WD. You can follow him on Twitter at @christianvasile or visit his web portfolio by clicking on the link above.