Key factors in determining how and where to host your web videos

Over the last several years, the web video landscape has changed dramatically. At 522 Productions and 522 Digital, we used to do most of our Flash development in-house and relied heavily on our own custom video players to distribute/play video content on the web. But, as we continue to focus on storytelling and digital marketing, we wanted to find a better solution for our video hosting platform.

During our recent website redesign, we really placed a priority on identifying a new video hosting platform. We wanted to select a partner that was the right fit for us and our client base. Here is a rundown of some of the major factors involved in our most recent decision process:

  • Compatibility –  We have about 10-15% of our website visitors view our site on a mobile device. So, it was important to have a platform compatible across the different operating systems and browsers.
  • Limited programming – We like to maintain a focus on design and content. Although we do all of our own web development, we really wanted to have a partner that was responsible for the technology behind our video hosting solution. I think it is not only important to have a solution that works today, but to have a video hosting platform that is constantly adapting to the changes on the web.
  • Scaleable – If you just have a requirement to host a couple of videos and need limited bandwidth, the solutions are almost infinite. You can elect to host the content yourself or turn to YouTube, Vimeo or a selection of others. YouTube is great for building a channel, but this is just one way to distribute content. It was important for us to have a host that was scaleable and could grow along with our content.
  • Styling/Skinning – We value our corporate brand and wanted to have a video player that could comfortably fit within our design. We wanted the player to have controls that were customizable and would match our color scheme. We also were looking for a way to easily style the player without having to do a lot of custom programming.
  • Analytics – Perhaps the most important aspect to consider with video content is the analytics. After all, if you invest in web videos, you also want to understand the type of return you are getting. We were looking for analytics beyond the traditional “views” and were hoping to find a solution where we could see a combination of YouTube and other views in one place.
  • Lightbox – I’ve always liked the functionality and user experience of a lightbox. I feel the lightbox approach works really well with video and ensures the viewer is locked in with the content.  Although this approach works well, it can be very cumbersome to implement across all major browsers and operating systems. By using javascript, Flash and other fallback code, it can be difficult to troubleshoot all of the different combinations. At the end of the day, we wanted solid lightbox functionality that we could trust and use to showcase our portfolio of videos.
  • Sharing – One of the most powerful aspects of video is its “viral” nature. People want to share video more than any other type of content. Therefore, it was really important for us to have sharing options available….especially if we weren’t going to solely rely upon YouTube as the host.
  • Cost – As with most business decisions, it is important to factor the cost. But, cost is not merely monetary, it also involves time and resources. We had a monthly budget of less than $500 and focused on solutions in this price range.
  • Content management – We build a lot of websites using open source content management systems (i.e., WordPress, Drupal) and were hoping to find a way to manage our video content effectively. We explored plug-ins for our CMS and other tools providing video content management. The tagging and sorting features available with Vidyard allows us to grow the amount of content without increasing the management workload. Although the video management isn’t integrated into our CMS, the application’s interface provides all of the functionality we need to grow (only downside is logging into another application to manage).

Other features we didn’t really consider, but that may be important to you:

  • Playlists – Due to the nature of our content, we don’t really have a need for playlists on our own corporate website. However, we had a chance to evaluate this functionality and can recommend this to our customers.
  • Encoding/Uploading – As a video production company, we often encode our own videos and client videos in a variety of formats. So, we have a good understanding of the various attributes involved when encoding video designed for the web. However, finding a solution with this built-in capability was an added bonus.

Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
    producing video.

    Get the Book
  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

    Get the Book
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