What are the Online Video Platforms available to brands?
You’ve got a stack of stunning video content — now where should you upload it? We weigh up the options when it comes to Online Video Platforms.
The answer’s obvious, isn’t it? You’ve produced some solid video content (or perhaps we’ve produced it for you) and now you just need to whack it up on YouTube.
Well, maybe. But not necessarily.
There are actually quite a few different Online Video Platforms (OVPs) available. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and they fall broadly into two camps: ‘Social’ and ‘Owned’.
This friendly bunch are defined by the fact that they don’t charge content creators for hosting videos, instead making their money from advertising. The category includes dedicated video platforms and social networking sites — although any distinction between the two is becoming increasingly blurred, as social media makes video content king and video platforms invariably incorporate social functions such as liking, commenting and sharing.
So who are the main players? Let’s start with a familiar face.
Very much the archetype for video hosting platforms, YouTube remains a strong option and for good reason — owned by Google, it’s the internet’s second most-used search engine. This means potential audience numbers are enormous.
What’s more, YouTube is a ‘fixed OVP’. Separate to the Social/Owned categories, the distinction between fixed and ‘fluid’ OVPs is about audience mindset. People visit YouTube specifically to be informed and entertained; this means they are willing to give videos their time and attention. As such, fixed OVPs like YouTube allow brands to have longer ‘conversations’ with an engaged audience. By contrast, let’s look at…
Like other social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram etc.), Facebook is a fluid OVP. Facebook users are constantly scrolling and tapping — flitting from one piece of content to the next, hopping between notifications, messages, photos, adverts, and maybe, just maybe, giving your branded video a few seconds of attention. The interface is fluid, as is the viewer’s level of engagement.
Facebook is ruled by so-called ‘thumb bait’ content — attention-grabbing, share-worthy videos that are often (but not exclusively) short. This kind of flashy content, combined with a sizeable advertising spend, can help brands achieve a massive buzz, but it is hard to get viewers to return consistently amidst so many distractions.
Another fluid OVP, Instagram used to be known for short-form video — allowing 60-second videos as posts, and 15-second clips as ‘stories’. However, creators can now post longer videos via the embedded sister app, IGTV.
Because there are four different ways you can share video on Instagram (if you include streaming via Instagram Live), it’s a great platform to unleash your most innovative video marketing ideas — but its fluid nature means it’s probably not the best place for your big budget Hero film.
Popular with artistic filmmakers, Vimeo is a fixed OVP that’s also suitable for brand video — not least because it boasts higher quality video playback than YouTube.
Vimeo can be a great way tap into a specialist audience — as its members routinely create playlists of videos relating to specific interests, e.g. hiking — although it is less searchable and receives less traffic than YouTube. By offering creators a paid-for premium version, Vimeo straddles the line between Social and Owned OVP.
The biggest weakness of Social OVPs is that brands have very little (if any) control over the content that’s displayed alongside their own — whether in the form of advertising, or recommended videos from other creators, who may even be competitors.
Additionally, embedding a video from a Social OVP on your own website can lead viewers to click away before you’re finished with them — lured by the myriad content that YouTube and co. has to offer. And, depending on how particular you are about your branding, you may not like having a big ol’ Facebook logo permanently on show in the vicinity of your lovingly crafted brand film.
That’s where Owned OVPs come in. Now, the thing is — they’re not free. In fact, they’re often not cheap, either. Owned OVPs let you host videos on their servers, in exchange for a subscription fee.
As with Social OVPs, you’ll be able to embed your videos to most websites, including social media platforms. Many Owned OVPs also provide a dedicated space for you to curate and display your content. You can then dish out a link via your other channels — much like encouraging fans to subscribe on YouTube or ‘like’ your Facebook, but with more control over what your content hub looks like.
It’s all about strategy
Whether you opt for a Social OVP or an Owned one, your choice of hosting platform will depend on the type of video content you’re producing, and what you hope to achieve with it.
Ideally, your decision should be informed by a considered and strategic video content distribution plan that is put in place at the very start of the creative process.
That’s why the full-service offering enjoyed by Lightbox clients begins with a strategy phase, where we talk OVP options and work out what’s best for your brand, before we go anywhere near a camera.
Either works for us.