YouTube is most popular free technology platform and user-generated content site for hosting, sharing, and marketing video today. But is YouTube the right solution for a company's website video? Let's weigh the pros and cons based on the needs of companies serious about having a professional video platform to promote their business.
How YouTube Became Treated As A Professional Video Solution
There's little debate today whether or not YouTube deserves to be crowned king of the video marketing revolution. Ironically, a website that was built around people uploading personal video content, fostered a massive worldwide culture and business market unto itself. Many companies and professionals that never before had anything to do with video before found YouTube incredibly easy to publish video of anything and everything.
"YouTube started out as the site with content so compelling that no one cared that the quality absolutely suck." Reported Jan Ozer in his article for StreamingMedia.com, "Choosing a UGC Site." YouTube had become accepted as part of a business video strategy for everyone to use for their own professional marketing activities and other business operations.
However, the widespread incorporation of YouTube has deserved its own consideration as to whether it suffices as stand-alone, single-solution technology platform for professionals – i.e., those who have a serious business model around video. Do determine this, we've analyzed YouTube's attributes that have made it the colossus in the online video world, and highlight the pros and cons of what matters to professionals with their own video activities.
Who Needs A Professional Video Presence on their Website?
Most companies today want their Website to look professional and everything to function properly, so it stands to reason that they would have the same expectations with their own video content. Here are the types of companies today that have a serious stake in having all video on their Websites be presented in a professional manner:
- All medium-to-large brands, and;
- Smaller businesses that depend on video for their business offerings to customers
We All Know that YouTube's Great for Video Marketing
Let's be perfectly clear – we've been saying at ReelSEO that all businesses should be involved with YouTube for marketing and advertising your video assets. Here are some great reasons why:
- Largest viewership of any video site, and one of the largest viewerships on the Web. (That's not about having a professional presentation per se, but it's about reaching an audience!)
- Search – YouTube is 2nd largest search engine next to Google, YouTube is owned by Google, and all YouTube videos can be indexed by Google's own search engine
- Owned by Google, so all of its videos are indexed into Google's own search engine.
- SEO features and opportunities for every video you have, and your video channel.
- Conversions – you can add a link back to your site in the description section around a video.
- Social Nature - YouTube is a social giant and makes it easy for sharing, both on all the major social networks and for easy embedding into Websites and blogs.
- Keyword research – you can do real-time searches for popular keywords to optimize your videos for.
- Some customization of your video channel design and player
But Should You Be Using YouTube On Your Website?
The Pros of YouTube for Hosting Video for your Website
The following features are available to all users, i.e., account holders on YouTube:
- Free hosting for an huge # of videos.
- Top quality for both video and audio for a free site. Resolution and data rate top all other free sites. Resolution can be has high as 1080p, perhaps even higher.
- Decent length. Users can upload a video at least 15 minutes long to YouTube, and partner accounts can upload longer videos.
- File size for uploading – maximum size for general users is 2GB, though some accounts can go as high as 20GB.
- Batch uploading – you can upload multiple videos at the same time.
- Multiple encoding – produces videos at multiple resolutions. An uploaded 720p video will encode at 240p, 360p, 480p, and 720p
- Popular codecs – HD videos are encoded in both H.264 and WebM format, which is handy for HTML5 delivery; and they do have HTML5 Embeds for mobile compatibility.
- Embedding – YouTube comes with multiple embedding options (including iFrame); you can customize the player dimensions for your Website, and specify whether the embedded video is SD or HD resolution. You can also embed YouTube playlists or entire channels.
- API - for those that want to integrate YouTube dynamically into their CMS and site.
The Cons of YouTube for Hosting Video for your Website
YouTube isn't all wine and roses, though. A lot of video pros and companies serious about video find the limitations and restrictions with their YouTube account to be problematic for business – both for their own marketing activities, and for servicing clients. Here are some reasons why:
- No real thumbnail choice – you're limited to 3 random images that YouTube selects for you to represent your video to everyone. UNLESS YOU ARE A PARTNER
- Limited and difficult customization – some tweaks are possible, but you would have to rely on some programming knowledge. (Read our ReelSEO article, "How to customize YouTube player embeds.”)
- Inconsistent streaming – viewers may experience slow playback during high traffic times.
- Blocked by companies. Many companies block their employees from browsing YouTube while at work – which is where they would be looking for your services. (Read our ReelSEO article, "YouTube is the 3rd most blocked website, Facebook first.”) So if you are trying to get more B2B customers and they typically browse at work, they wont be able to watch it.
- No Adaptive Bit-Rate Streaming. Wonder why you sometimes experience considerable buffering that slows down watching a YouTube video? That's because YouTube can't detect your bandwidth and CPU capacity in real time and adjust the quality of its video stream accordingly. Considerable buffering can mean slow start times, stops in-between, and an overall inadequate viewing experience for some connections.
- Unwanted competition – YouTube can feature advertisements around your videos from your competitors. These may appear in the "related videos" section, in the "promoted videos" ads, overlay ads, and sometimes as banner ads.
- Can't use your own ad network.
- Google indexing – no way to rely on any videos and their thumbnail images showing up in Google's universal search results for your own domain (or Google's Video Search engine). YouTube videos from your own channel that appear in Google's search results will not take people directly to your own Website.
- NO customer service – sending in a question or request may not be answered, or may not get you an actual customer support person to give you something other than a canned response.
- Account shutdown – YouTube can shut down your account at any time, for any reason.
- Limited length – each video is limited to under 15 minutes length
- Takedowns – Enforcement of their guidelines considered arbitrary, and have proven difficult sometimes to dispute and counter file.
Treat YouTube As Your #1 Power Supplement, but NOT Your "Meal Replacement" to a Professional Website Video Presence. YouTube is clearly the most affordable solution (it's free), and has many resources and features that make it possible for everyone to have a business model with video.
YouTube is the best free UGC video site around, and we always recommend including YouTube in your video marketing strategy. But serious video pros shouldn't depend on YouTube alone. If you're doing video to promote your company or client business, you should strongly consider a professional video technology platform that can compensate for YouTube's own shortcomings.
Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto®, Image # 113778 © lisegagne; © eyeidea