When it comes to streaming videos, the question we get asked the most is what streaming platform is best for my site? By default, most businesses and individuals will gravitate toward YouTube, as it is user friendly and well known. However, there are some key factors that play into deciding which platform is the best choice. When we make a video, we want it to reach our intended audience demographic, but it also helps to know if the video has strong audience retention. These factors are more valuable than just the number of views, because it helps to discern how relevate your content is to your marketplace, thus driving authority. Being able to analyze how effective your video is will enable you to shape your content in a more precise fashion continuing forward. Here are the pros and cons of the top three video streaming sites when it comes to tracking analytics and overall flexibility for business applications.
When YouTube came onto the scene in 2005, it changed the way we access video content. As the frontrunner for several years, YouTube has seen multiple updates that make it a worthy platform for streaming. Here is what www.youtube.com has to offer:
- Shows average watch time
- Shows average view duration
- Shows geographical breakdown
- Shows number of shares
- Shows gender breakdown
- No presentation control
- Suggested content can be un-related
- Saturated video market
While YouTube is great for its popularity, robust analytics tracking, and general ease of use, it does have a number of negatives that make it falter when compared other platforms. Generally speaking, the major drawback in our opinion is that the professionalism of YouTube is called into question due to the types of videos uploaded to the site. Your company’s sales video could show up beside a recommended stream of cat videos or prank shows, something that you do not necessarily want a prospective client to see. The lack of this presentation control is a big drawback to YouTube’s features.
Developed prior to YouTube, 2004 saw the arrival of Vimeo. Since then, Vimeo has earned a reputation as being a more “professional” viewing platform given its content has less to do with cat videos and more to do with presenting engaging visuals. The benefits and drawbacks to www.vimeo.com are as follows:
- Shows number of plays
- Shows average watch time per view
- Shows geographical breakdown (plays by region)
- Shows plays by source URL
- No gender breakdown analytics
- Upload time for basic account can take thirty to forty minutes
- Smaller dedicated audience base
A major positive for Vimeo is the cleanliness of its viewing window, however it does fall short when measuring data compared to YouTube. Another negative is Vimeo’s viewership is significantly smaller than that of YouTube. Vimeo makes up for this in a few different areas. It allows one to re-upload a video without losing stats. This comes in handy if you have made revisions to the original file, and want to retain the same URL. Vimeo also allows different membership tiers, which enable the user to reap certain benefits such as a lesser upload time and higher storage limits – under the basic, free membership, users are restricted to only 500MB of upload storage. Overall, Vimeo seems to be the best platform if you already have a built-in audience that you are marketing toward.
Finally, we have Wistia. Wistia was developed in 2006, and appears to be one of the most robust platforms when it comes to video analytics. Offering three membership tiers: Free, Pro, and Premium, there are plenty of upgrade options in order to maximize the power of this hosting platform. Here are the pros and cons of www.wistia.com:
- Viewer-based tracking (identifies viewers and retains information for CRM use)
- Video heatmaps
- Engagement graphs
- Google Analytics integration
- Monthly cost for higher tier memberships
- Not searchable like YouTube and Vimeo
- Wistia branding on free accounts
Wistia is strictly a hosting site, which could be a potential drawback. However, like YouTube, it offers in-depth analytics enabling the user to track viewership to the specific second. Its ability to integrate with Google Analytics, and allow you to export viewer data to any CRM works wonders when it comes to prospecting new leads. A downside to this platform is that it favors the paid accounts over the free memberships, meaning one sees less features for the basic membership than they would if they pay the monthly charges. Wistia limits the free account to hosting just three videos. Wistia appears to be the perfect platform for targeting new leads for your sales department, as it allows you to directly measure your audience data and convert that information to target repeat viewers. The unfortunate side to his platform is the potential cost, and the lack of audience viewership when compared to YouTube.
There is no such thing as a perfect viewing platform, as each video hosting site has its benefits and drawbacks. In order to choose the right one for the job, it boils down to addressing one’s specific needs. YouTube has a powerful analytics system with a large audience base; Vimeo features professional looking viewer-windows with a more mature audience; Wistia is not searchable like YouTube and Vimeo, but does feature the most robust analytics with viewer tracking. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your objectives, not only as a whole, but per individual video. By incorporating all three platforms – depending on the video – one can harness the positives of each.