14/08/2012

By Anish Patel, Founder and Head Producer of Revolution Productions

YouTube has been undergoing many changes in the past couple of months, including a redesign that launched the new “professional content” pages on the site. The company has also rumoured to have been scrubbing accounts, even deactivating dead accounts. However, even after all these changes to improve the site; many of the most popular YouTubers have reported a decline in their viewership, which begs the question: Is YouTube on the ropes?

Quick answer: Sadly, yes. The attempt of YouTube to professionalise the site has not sat well with users and the rise of other comparable and arguably better video hosting sites is starting to take it’s toll, YouTube video viewings have decreased every month this year:

January : 21.8 billion video views

February : 18.5 billion video views

March : 16.5 billion video views

April : 15.6 billion video views

Even #saveYouTube hastags have been spreading on twitter, so that can’t be a good sign. While YouTube is still boasting that people are spending more time on the site, watching longer videos, the figures don’t lie – people are going elsewhere for their video viewing.

So what does this mean for you avid reader? Well, it means you should probably take another look at where you post your videos. While YouTube is trying to create a more professional feel, there are still those ridiculous animated videos mimicking How to Catch a Predator. So, perhaps it’s time to think about other places to post your content as there is now a wealth to choose from.

Choosing a web video hosting service for your business web video is like picking out a television: not only do aesthetics matter, but functionality and image quality are key. The right TV set can make your living room look elegant and brighten your whole viewing experience, while the wrong one just makes you want to get up and leave.

In the same way, your video hosting platform presents the first impression customers will have of your work, setting the tone for the whole story. Small, nearly invisible differences in your video hosting platform can have a dramatic effect. Some fundamental details to consider as you compare hosting services: picture quality, streaming speed, customization options like whether you can brand your own videos, content and editorial management, and monetization tools.

It’s also important that the platform you choose matches the personality of your company, whether your brand is young and viral or experienced and steadfast. This is where your web video company comes in. Let’s take a trip down video hosting service lane.

Youtube: Even though Youtube is suffering current dramatic declines, they invented the game, took it to billions of users, and so synonymous with virality that the game now plays itself. Youtube streams fast and is excellent for SEO. But as tempting as that level of exposure sounds, there are certain features that Youtube doesn’t offer: it’s hard to customize your videos without paying a high fee or becoming a partner, and it is restrictive of what you can do with the video player on your website.

Vimeo: Youtube’s artsy cousin, the one who spent the summer in Europe and is suddenly too mature for cat fail videos and whose mum wants you to be more like. A serious platform that offers high picture quality and a professional look. The pro-version offers strong analytics, but Vimeo’s streaming is slow, SEO is poor, and customization is expensive.

Wistia: Designed strictly for business, Wistia’s biggest selling point is user tracking, which allows companies to stalk you see exactly how individual users interact with their videos. Another unique feature is the ability to embed videos in email marketing campaigns through MailChimp. To sweeten the deal, Wistia offers a great internal content management system, fast streaming, good SEO, and useful tools for customization analytics.

Viddler: A professional service that specifically caters to business users who want to use online video for marketing purposes. Viddler is especially useful for building up your brand through video, and includes several business-friendly tools like analytics and monetization. However, drawbacks include mediocre image quality and streaming, and limited, clumsy customization. A solid starter kit, though — who doesn’t want a Viddler on their roof?

Brightcove: The Brightcove video “cloud” is the hardcore corporate option: it offers an extensive set of tools and features, from creating a “cove” of videos to implanting a video system on your website. If you have a strongly established brand and are looking for a rich, sophisticated interface to drive sales and showcase your material, this platform may be for you. But Brightcove is very inflexible, and at the end of the day image quality is not that great while streaming can be slow.

There’s a clear upcoming contender to rival the old guard You Tube. Wistia is the one to watch, because behind its friendly interface it excels on every count. Run by a small team, Wistia offers helpful customer service without compromising on the essentials: crystal-clear picture quality, fast streaming speed, flexible branding options, and tons of features that include helpful analytics to measure your success. So jump right in and you’ll be able to show off a sleek, seemingly effortless powerhouse video in no time.