By Jean-Charles Lacoste
The power of online video is huge. According to comScore, a provider of user engagement statistics, 45.4% of internet users view at least one video per month, with average users viewing approximately 32.2 videos per month.
As a business, you have to make the most of the growth in online video in order to expose your brand to the maximum number of potential customers. There are several online video providers (OVPs) you can do this with. The question is, which one offers the best provision for you? In order to make a decision, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of each provider.
What are the attributes of end user platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion?
The major positive of using YouTube as a platform for your brand’s videos is that it’s free, making it appeal to small and medium-size businesses. This free video hosting includes a limited amount of customization. Of course, YouTube is the largest OVP, with approximately 450 million unique global visitors each month, meaning it offers a huge potential audience. It’s also easy to use. Uploading content to the site is a simple process, as is sharing the content across your social media platforms.
Before you start thinking that YouTube is the answer to your prayers, take account of the cons. One major stumbling block with YouTube is the lack of full customization available. This can result in viewers directly interacting less with your brand’s campaign. A further detriment of YouTube as an OVP is the presence of advertising, not to mention other video content. The advertising and other videos can act as a competitor to your content, which is obviously less than ideal. Add to these factors the limitations of YouTube analytics in measuring your content’s performance, and you begin to see that YouTube is not as enticing of an OVP as it first appears.
Vimeo does not have the same viewership as YouTube — it’s more of a niche offering, meaning your videos won’t get the level of exposure that they would on YouTube. On the upside, the people watching on Vimeo are often more appreciative of quality content. The quality of content on Vimeo does tend to be higher, and your videos will benefit from being seen in that world.
However, Vimeo isn’t free. Reasonably priced business packages are available, and this might keep the overall content standard from declining. It’s worth noting that no packages include unlimited video upload; if you are a business that aims at uploading a lot of content, you may feel restricted.
DailyMotion has often been called the poor man’s YouTube. You can upload content there for free…with advertising. However, DailyMotion doesn’t have as many viewers as YouTube. Visits total in the low hundred thousands per month, while YouTube gets over 1 billion. DailyMotion also has a reputation for allowing some of the more dubious content that YouTube doesn’t, like when it comes to monitoring copyright. Of course, this may change if the proposed buyout by Yahoo ever happens.
What benefits do innovators such as Brightcove, Ooyala, and 23 Video provide you with?
As a commercial OVP, Brightcove is a robust global hosting and serving option used by many Fortune 10 companies. Its servers are fast, including its live-streaming capabilities. Brightcove also manages mobile content and allows streaming speed to vary based on device type. The Brightcove OVP is highly customizable for brand representation and supports plug-ins. In all but the basic package you get to choose what advertising appears on your video content. It also offers a great depth of analytics.
One problem with Brightcove, however, is the lack of pricing clarity. Cost relates to individual requirements, so you’ll have to speak to the company directly if you want to ascertain your required spend after the initial thirty-day free trial.
Ooyala was formed by ex-Google alumni and has always had a reputation for using more Silicon Valley tech, but it doesn’t have as much market share as Brightcove. Both providers offer a similar spec with regard to quality, but Ooyala has a reputation for offering a more accomplished analytics system. It’s also important to note that Ooyala is video content centric — all of its systems and procedures are based around the video, not around the player as with Brightcove.
The Scandinavian OVP 23 Video offers one serious advantage — their out of the box provisions is simple to purchase and set up. 23 Video only offers one comprehensive package, so you don’t have to wade through layers of custom options, usually whilst speaking to a range of representatives, to get the product you want. However, it’s not necessarily as cheap as Brightcove and Ooyala.
Why might you decide to use JW Player, DaCast, or Kaltura as an OVP?
JW Player is the most popular embedded media player globally with self-hosted and cloud hosted flexibility. There is a free player option, although content is watermarked with the JW Player logo. The reasonably priced pro and premium packages offer a variety of marketing, branding, sharing, and streaming functionality. Using JW Player gives you the flexibility to customize and distribute your video content in a way that best suits your brand.
While the customization tools render pixel-perfect skins across Flash and HTML5, JW Player’s main issue is that any customization do require development resources.
DaCast offers full service video, including live streaming, VOD, and video hosting. It also offers a variety of packages to suit your business requirements, from basic to premium. All of the packages include features like no viewer limits, third party integration, unlimited channels, and analytics. As with other self-hosting options, buffering can be an issue with your content on DaCast. You should also know that if you purchase a pay-as-you-go provision, it will expire 12 months after purchase, used or not.
Kaltura was already known as an open source video platform provider, but it’s since expanded to LongTail video with an open source video player. Users have the benefit of getting a fully customizable video player within the environment of an open source video platform, enabling full management of content, and access to the Kaltura open source community for advice and support.
So which is the best option?
This decision is going to depend on the individual requirements of your business, such as budget and time constraints. A service like YouTube allows you to get your content out at no cost but is not the best option if you want viewers to interact with your brand. An OVP like Brightcove gives you far more customization options, but costs can be high. Self-hosting with a product like JW Player give you lots of control but can be more time consuming, and you may experience streaming issues. Ultimately, you have to choose whatever provides the best value for your business.