If your company or brand is investing in video marketing and video production, you want to get the most for your budget just like you would with any other marketing investment. One key factor in your video marketing success is selecting the correct hosting platform to host and serve your content to viewers.
The video hosting platform you select will play an important role in the overall success of your total marketing ROI. It should be able to support your video marketing strategy with respect to scalability and shareability as well as your management reporting requirements. Some companies decide to host their own video content locally or have their marketing agency host them for them. Many others, however, choose third-party hosting providers such as YouTube or Wistia. Regardless of which provider you decide to go with, below are some of the key questions you should consider asking when evaluating any hosting platform provider.
How is the Video Hosting Service Priced?
This can vary dramatically, ranging from free hosting to paid hosting depending on a multitude of factors. While some offer free and paid hosting accounts, others will charge you based on the amount of storage space your hosted videos consume. That could be a monthly recurring fee for each video uploaded or it could be a monthly charge for your total storage with the platform provider. Alternatively, some video hosting companies charge based on bandwidth, meaning how many times videos are viewed.
We actually recommend that businesses use a combination of both free and premium services, some of which are also free. For example, we prefer that videos that are embedded directly on websites or specific landing pages be hosted with a premium host so that you can have control over the appearance of the video player itself, more in-depth analytical insights, and lead capture capabilities. At the same time, we recommend that the same video be posted to one of the public search platforms like YouTube, which is free. This way you can better segment the viewership data from content that was viewed organically from the YouTube network versus content that was viewed as a direct result of your paid marketing efforts, both digital and physical.
Are There Bandwidth Limitations?
Depending on how the video hosting company’s fee and pricing structure works, you may have a limit to the number of times your content can be viewed each month based on its bandwidth consumption. You should always ask if the provider charges an over-bandwidth fee, or if they slow or freeze your video traffic when you exceed the bandwidth limit. The last thing you want to do is deliver a bad web experience for your users. Presenting a viewer with an unplayable or slow and pixelated video is a sure-fire way to deliver such an experience. It’s important to also ask if the video hosting service is capable of scaling bandwidth to meet increased demand if necessary.
If you’ve already begun your video marketing journey and are just now considering transitioning from a free service to a paid service, we recommend you analyze what viewership data is available from your free service provider in order to best estimate your bandwidth usage. If you’re hosting your videos on YouTube currently, you should continue to do so, in addition to working with a premium video hosting provider.
How Are My Videos Stored and Delivered?
You should always ask how your video files will be stored and served from a technical standpoint. Are they stored on a local server cluster or in a private cloud or on a Content Delivery Network (CDN) operated by your video hosting company? CDNs are essentially grids of geographically scattered servers that can deliver content from the server closest to the physical location of a given user, delivering faster load times and ultimately better user experiences. When it comes to digital marketing, seconds do matter, and slow loads can and will lead to higher bounce and lower view time rates. If you’re using video to deliver an internal or monitored proprietary sales or technical training program, it’s also important to understand the level of security that is offered to protect your hosted assets.
With regard to security, the bigger name hosts, like YouTube, make the content permanently and publicly available. You can of course make the video private and delete it, but ultimately, it is being uploaded and hosted in a public domain. If you want your videos widely available, or only shared via your own platform or website of choice, then we highly recommend a premium hosting solution or hosting internally or through a third-party video marketing agency.
Lastly, you should also ask the video hosting provider if they provide adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming automatically adjusts the quality of the video content delivered to deliver the optimal viewing experience depending on the dynamic condition of the network being used to deliver the video.
What Type of Viewer Metrics Are Available?
If you’re the type of company that lives for analytics and metrics, then chances are you’re going to want to work with a premium video hosting provider. The free services do offer some level of analytics, but the premium services tend to provide much deeper and more actionable data insights. One of the easiest ways to see the types of analytics a specific provider can deliver is to just ask for a sample report. Most of the leading providers can give you a live virtual demo of their premium services so you can actually see what the front- and back-ends look like, providing a deeper look into the reporting capabilities as well as all functionality.
What Type of Sharing and Embedding Capabilities Are Available?
When choosing the appropriate video hosting platform provider for your business, it’s important to keep in mind how you’ll be sharing and delivering your content from a technical standpoint to make sure your host can support your marketing plans. For example, do you plan on embedding the video directly in an email, or do you plan on placing the video on a campaign-specific landing page? If you’re using marketing automation or email marketing solution such as HubSpot or MailChimp, there’s a good chance the video hosting provider might offer advanced integration capabilities which will make their solution even more robust. Also make sure that the available embedding codes are compatible with your website’s template, functionality or styling. These are all questions you’ll want to ask and look into prior to making your decision.
Equally as important, is also understanding the hosting provider’s shareability limitations with respect to third-party media sites like Facebook and blogs. Do you want people to only view your videos on your designated web properties or within the email itself, or do you want people to help you share your content by reposting and sharing it with social media sites, news outlets, and industry blogs? Almost all providers offer some level of social sharing and embedding, but it’s always a good idea to make sure they are compatible with the social channels you invest in.
How Much Customization Is Possible with Regard to Branding?
For some companies, maintaining a certain perceived image is of the utmost importance. One of the key benefits that premium video hosting service providers can deliver is the ability to customize the look and feel of the video player itself. A lot of companies simply don’t want to display YouTube, Vimeo, or any logos on the players for videos embedded directly within their domain. Other companies want to have complete control over what the video thumbnail frame looks like all the way to what color the play button is. Another key benefit that premium providers offer is control over what content to show, if any, once a video has been viewed.
One of the downsides to the free video hosting platforms is that you have no control over which video begins auto-playing or which video is auto-suggested once your video is finished. Without having control of this, a free public video hosting provider can potentially recommend or even worse, auto-play your competitor’s videos on your website.
if you’re the type of marketer that likes to stay ahead of the competition, then there’s probably a good chance that you’ve been seriously considering integrating video content into your overall marketing mix and lead generation plans if you haven’t already. Equally as important as choosing the right video production company to produce your content is choosing the right video hosting platform or provider to deliver your video content. It’s important that you select a host that can support your overall long-term video marketing strategy and serve your current and near-future needs.
About the Author
Peter Horton is a co-founder of Telideo Productions and currently serves as its Managing Director. Telideo is a video production and video marketing company located in Denver, CO that is 100% focused on video services.