Video Compression for the Web Part 3 – The Host

In part 1 I covered a brief history of video on the web. Yesterday in part 2 I got down to the nitty-gritty of what settings to use for web compression. Today I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of the three major ways in which you can host your videos.

thehostNow that you’ve exported your video, you gotta put it somewhere. But where? Do you throw it up on your website (e.g. youdomain.com/videos/my_video.mov). Do you put it on YouTube? Perhaps Vimeo? What about that blip thingy? Or maybe you’ve read a post (like this one) that says video producers should use a service like Wistia to host videos?

So many options. It can be very confusing. Before we get into what option is the best for you, let’s begin today how we ended yesterday: asking questions.

  • Who’s the audience? Professionals? Parents? Teens? Other creatives? The general public?
  • What’s the potential traffic? Do expect this video will get 150 views? 150,000? 150 million?
  • How important is it for the video to be easily found? Do you want it easily found? Do you want to keep it private?
  • Do you have a budget allocated to hosting the video? Are you prepared to pay for hosting fees, bandwidth fees, premium service fees, etc?

The answers to these questions (whether they’re questions YOU must answer or your clients must answer) will help you determine the best course of action.

I’m typically a proponent of upload everywhere (or as many places as you have the time and temperament to do.) In most cases you will want as many people to see your video as possible. So why not get it out to as many places as possible. Some may argue that you risk “splitting the views” when you do this. If you only have your video on Vimeo, then that Vimeo video gets all the views, making the video look more popular. My counter argument to that is: do you want your video to look popular, or do you want it to be seen? Unless you (or your client) has the kind of broad appeal that transcends video sharing site demographics, chances are more likely that only people who hang out on Vimeo will see your video if it’s on Vimeo. YouTubers will only see your video if you put it on YouTube. Etc. Don’t shoot yourself foot to spite your Facebook. :)

With that said, I believe it’s best to pick one form of video sharing that you use as the primary resource when YOU post the video. Again, the one source may change for you depending on the answers to the aforementioned questions. So let’s now look at the three major ways you can get your video online, and the pros and cons of each.

Host Yourself

There are two forms of “hosting yourself” I’m including here. First, where you have your own servers to host your website (most likely the case if you’re at a large company or organization); or, you use the website space from your webhost provider. (For WordPress bloggers, a slick version of this is their Video Press service. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. Technically it’s a “host yourself” option because the videos you upload use up however much space you have. But it converts those videos to HTML5-compatible videos with great sharing features.)

Pro

  • Total control over the delivery, compression and user experience.

Cons

  • Unless you have some kind of programing superstar in your organization, the video viewing experience will be rather simple (e.g. no ability to change the video player, add features like full-screen, no branding, no links at the end of the video, no sharing features, etc.
  • Extra bandwidth can be expensive

Third-party Video Sharing Sites

vidsharinglogosThe overwhelming majority of you will most likely use one of the major video sharing sites to host your videos (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo). There are other services like blip.tv (which is really designed for video podcasts), Veoh, etc.  I don’t know enough about all of them to say which is ideal. But I have written about YouTube vs. Vimeo if you want to know my opinion about which of those two to focus your attention.

Pros

  • Ease of use (for both you when it comes to uploading and your audience when it comes to viewing)
  • Rich player features (e.g. fullscreen, multiple resolutions, branding, etc.)
  • Multiple resolutions auto-generated. If a viewer has the bandwidth and the monitor size to support higher resolutions, they can easily switch from an SD experience to an HD experience.  YouTube will allow you to go all the way up to 4k I believe.
  • Easy social media sharing
  • HTML5 compliant
  • Unlimited (or nearly unlimited) hosting and bandwidth
  • Free (or low-cost)
  • The ability to track statistics (to varying degrees. Some stat features are better than others)

Cons

  • SEO juice goes to the company, not you. (i.e. their Google rankings are improved with your video, not yours.)
  • Third-party branding (unless you pay for a premium service like Vimeo Pro that allows you to use your branding)
  • Shared exposure. On most of these sites, your videos will be right next to other videos. If not on the same page (as is the case with YouTube) within a click or two. Do you want to increase the chance of your viewers being sucked away to watch some cat juggler just because you posted a video on “How to Juggle Work and Life”?
  • Your video may also be subject to ads placed on them and/or around them. Or worse yet, before them. (Note: in some cases you may WANT that, because you may get enough views to actually earn a living from the ad vies your videos get. But I hazard to guess most of you reading this aren’t’ getting millions of views a month, or even hundreds of thousands of views per month, where this would actually matter to you).
  • Limitation on the kind of videos you can post. Depending on the terms of agreement, there are some types of videos you may not be “technically” allowed to post. Note to you Vimeo users: technically, you’re not supposed to post commercial or corporate promotional videos on Basic or Plus Vimeo accounts. But, we all know that most of you are. For whatever reason, Vimeo has not been enforcing its own rules in that regard. But, they could at any moment, and be well within their own terms of service to take down all your 145 corporate promo videos. Especially that now they’re offering a paid service for businesses to use. Just something to keep in mind.
vimeo-commercial_restrict

An excerpt from Vimeo’s guidelines for posting videos.

  • Terms of Service (TOS). How many of you read the TOS of the video sites you use? I bet you could count on one hand the number of people reading this blog who have actually read the TOS of the video sharing sites they use. Some of these TOS are very broad. They’re written that way to protect the companies, and in truth, in most cases they would never abuse the full power of the letter of the law. But, I’m sure the poor folks who uploaded their photos to iStockPhoto thought the same thing before Getty sold all their rights to Google, and now the stock photos that earned them  hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars per month, can call be used for free by Google+ users (as a G+ user myself, I thank you for your “donation.”) All that to say: don’t be surprised if one day you see a 5 second clip from that “How to Juggle Work and Life” video I mentioned on some stock footage site being sold for $150 (none of which you’re getting).
  • Subject to random copyright-police algorithms. Due to the advent of copyright-infringing music and/or video clips in uploaded videos, sites like YouTube and Facebook have implemented computer programs that can detect copyright-infringing material and take it down automatically. The problem is that sometimes you DO have the proper rights and the video comes down anyway. I had this happened at least once (maybe twice) with an Animoto video I uploaded. We used a song from their library, a song that grants you legal rights to use in a video, and YouTube took it down. It was a pain going through the procedure to get it back up.

I want you to notice how many cons there actually are. I bet you had no idea that the sites you use every day had so many real, viable, thought-provoking drawbacks. Did you? By the time I thought about all the real cons and wrote this list, I even surprised myself. Again, depending on the answers to those questions above, none of this may matter. But if some (or all) of these cons do matter, you have one more option.

Premium Sharing Sites

premvidsitesIn recent years we’ve seen a new category of video sharing site arise. One that offers the pros of sites like YouTube and Vimeo, but not the major cons. Some of the biggies include Wistia, Viddler, Brightcove, Vidyard and Vimeo. Yes, Vimeo Pro and Vimeo for Business are the equivalent of these services.

Pros

  • Ease of use (for both you when it comes to uploading and your audience when it comes to viewing)
  • Rich player features (e.g. fullscreen, multiple resolutions, branding, etc.)
  • Sales and Marketing features. These sites typically have features built into their player that will allow you to capture email addresses, link to pages, do A/B testing of thumbnails, see where in the video people stop watching, and even do some action before allowing you to see the video.
  • HTML5 compliant
  • More advanced statistics (Wistia’s stat features are amazing.)
  • SEO juice goes to YOU. That means, your Google and web search rankings are improved when you upload videos using one of these sites.
  • No shared exposure. When you go to the video page, yours is the only video on there. There are no cat juggling videos to compete with. No Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift memes to distract your audience. It’s 100% you.
  • Your branding on the player.
  • No TOS issues. The videos you upload will always and forever be yours and yours alone.

Cons

  • Cost. By far this is the biggest con. Wistia does have a free account if you have three or fewer videos (although the player is Wistia branded). Costs for these services range from $199/year to $6,000/year. Some of these services are clearly aimed at enterprise-level companies and organizations with huge, regular audiences (perhaps in the millions). Do your homework before picking a provider. Look at their features closely. Don’t just look at price as they all have varying levels of service (e.g. some have unlimited videos at their highest packages while others cap at a certain amount of space).
  • Limited Exposure. One of the pros could also be a con. Because these sites do not foster “communities” of video audiences and curators, the sites in and of themselves are not places where you videos can be found. Many people will go to YouTube or Vimeo specifically to look for great work or a particular kind of video. If you only have your videos on a site like Wisita, you lose out there. (StillMotion was famously “discovered” by an employee of the NFL who found one of their wedding videos on Vimeo. There are numerous stories of music artists being discovered on YouTube.) So, as I mentioned above, be smart, and post your videos on these sites anyway.

Don’t Be a Robot

My final word to you regarding this whole topic of video compression for the web is “don’t be a robot.” Think strategically about what kind of videos you’re producing, who the intended audience is, and what is the most effective way to get that video in front of that intended audience and provide an optimum viewing experience. Don’t just upload all your videos to some video sharing site just because “everybody else is doing it”. Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else is doing it? (Yes, I know that’s a clichéd retort, but it’s fun to say. :) )

Where do you like to post your videos, and why?

Learn More

If you’re serious about improving your craft as a filmmaker, I invite you to join my email list. I’ll be sharing various opportunities and resources for filmmakers and videographers to grow their craft and their business (many of which will be absolutely free). As a thank-you for joining the list, I’ve been given permission to share with my list joiners a copy of theKre8Insights eBook, The 6-figure Videographer (a $90 value). OR, if listening rather than reading is more your thing, you can choose to get my 75-minute mp3 “Power Pricing”. This is a coaching call I did with a client where I walked him through the process of pricing his services. Sign up now.

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6 Responses to “Video Compression for the Web Part 3 – The Host”

  1. Hey Ron, I really enjoyed this short series you posted on video compression for the web.

    You might also want to mention the Portfolio option within Vimeo Pro. It’s a great way to showcase your clients videos and basically give them a link to their very own website in a sense, without the distraction as you mentioned of being exposed to all kinds of other videos if posted to a Youtube channel. As part of my service, I actually create the Portfolio and allow the client simply to link to it and imbed it on their website. You can also choose to brand or not to brand the video.

    Here are two examples:
    The Kafka House (for Safdie Rabines architects in San Diego) http://vimeopro.com/cervideo/the-kafka-house

    Trinity Christian Academy Booster Club in Dallas, TX

    http://vimeopro.com/cervideo/trinity-christian-academy-booster-club

    Thanks again,
    Clint

  2. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
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