Day after day, the inclusion of publicly available movies into our entertainment and information world is gathering momentum and gaining more importance than ever before. YouTube, the “big daddy” of all online video information, competes intensely with other young pretenders to the throne of “King of the Online Video”. MySpaceTV, Google Video, Yahoo Video, Viddler, and Veoh are YouTube’s nearest competition of the same class in bringing best video service to viewers worldwide. According to ReadWriteWeb dot com’s review in June 2008, YouTube’s share of the movies download pie was a staggering 75%+ … bigger than Google’s slice of the search market!
For the online marketer or information webmaster the question is whether you want to use YouTube or a similar service as the channel for your movies, or whether you will host them yourself on your own website, for streaming or downloading to your website viewers.
Some of the potential advantages of using YouTube to host your video material might include the following considerations. Using YouTube to reach the media is cheap and easy. This is the biggest advantage that can gain you high visibility, especially if you have to be cost conscious. It will show almost any movie content or format, though MPEG4 is the preferred form and AVI a close second. Other formats may suffer some loss of quality and also carry serious file size overheads. YouTube offers a free movie service that is simple to access and the conditions are very clearly laid out for all users. YouTube has become a repository of an incredible variety of movies, infomercials, how to videos and much more. It lets you as a viewer, stay up to date with the newest videos and movies, through its subscription service. It is a major benefit that you can express your creativity through it, without needing to spend a fortune on an MGM studio. There are lots of networking and viral marketing benefits, in reaching a wider audience; getting to know more people and learning through YouTube.
However, YouTube is not without its share of cons. The major blips amongst these are that whatever you post goes public to everyone. There is virtually no control on who can post a video. So there are issues associated with posting videos that feature bigotry, violence, sexually explicit materials and other abuses. Within YouTube there is a moderation process, but it can take some time before genuinely bad material is removed. There is frequent copyright infringement especially of cinema and music movies; and it remains to be seen when an effective response to this issue can be formulated. Fortunately this should not be a major problem to any marketer with an ounce of integrity.
The other side of the coin is having your own movies hosted on your own websites. Most hosting companies that are used by marketers are well geared up to cope with the clearly visible growth trend of the video medium online. There is a clear and important impact on your web design process. Many websites carrying video do not have their pages set up for it at all well. This is where a good web designer or purpose built templates come in. For marketers, the classic example is the video squeeze page; for which, a growing product line of squeeze page templates, optimized around personalized movies, is appearing.
There are some major technical issues to be considered when trying to get your free movies, for potential customers, working via your own hosting account and you do need to be on top of them. Simply getting the size and format of your self-produced movies correct for viewing on most people’s browsers can be a major challenge if you have not chosen hardware and software carefully. This is not the place to go into the minutiae of setting up video content yourself: suffice to say there’s a lot to consider and plan.
Careful research into your potential web hosting solution is essential before you spend hard earned cash on a contract that doesn’t give you sufficient bandwidth to cope with a successful marketing campaign which generates high demand for your free movies that have struck a chord with customers and gone viral.
On the whole, there is little doubt that the advantages easily outweigh the disadvantages of using YouTube for most website owners and marketers. Follow the posting guidelines that make YouTube the powerful, legitimate medium it is. Ensure that you post the most appropriate content and don’t sink to “lowest common denominator marketing” by pandering to the thirst for images of violence or sex to sell your services. (We don’t HAVE to go with the negative influences out there).
To ensure the effectiveness of your sales movies whether self hosted or posted on YouTube; make them short and precise. This assumes great importance in the case of marketing and all forms of advertising where you have to beat the viewer’s incredibly short online attention span. For training materials and infomercials you need a fine balance between the “short and sharp” and valuable content. If you are giving information, it needs to be useful, clear and useable for your viewer. Good sound quality is essential, so invest in a decent microphone for your next production.
Finally get out there and try it! I would recommend you start by using YouTube or a similar service for your first efforts and only break into self hosted video when you have established a presence and some mileage in producing videos. Video is an essential medium for websites, Google likes video content, viewers prefer movies, if well presented. Your own free movies presented on the sales page or content pages of your websites are just a far more effective way of getting your brand established and connecting more fully with prospects and turning them into customers or loyal subscribers.