22nd January 2019

YouTube vs. Vimeo

It doesn’t seem so long ago that video content was a bit of an afterthought – something extra to satisfy that dreaded marketing brief of making it more ‘jazzy’.

Not so anymore. These days video is as mainstream as it gets – and it’s growing. This study found that 81% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, up by more than 20% on the previous year.

Video is everywhere – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many others besides. But our appetite continues to grow. YouTube has an audience of over one billion, nearly a third of all internet users, and 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube content each week. More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major US television networks have created in 30 years.

But before we hitch our wagons to the video revolution, it’s worth thinking about what to do with the content. Distribution is an important part of your content marketing strategy, but what’s the best way to get noticed? Here we look at two of the main platforms, YouTube and the smaller, but rapidly growing Vimeo.

YouTube – what’s good about it?

YouTube is the largest of the networks, from business channels and personal blogs, all the way to streaming television. Around 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute with 3 billion views every day.

It’s free and it offers unlimited uploads, which is a big plus. Even if you’ve just started, video content devours ‘space’, so being free of both cost and bandwidth constraints get YouTube off to a great start. As part of the Google empire, putting video content on YouTube can also increase your search ranking and it has the largest audience in terms of global reach.

It’s easy to customise, making it an extension of your corporate identity, and because it offers ‘playlists’ you can group content together to show viewers other things that might interest them. If you have over 1,000 subscribers and enough views over a 12-month period, you can also become a part of the ‘YouTube Partner Program’, which means you can monetise your video content by allowing ads to appear at the footer. Every time a viewer clicks on an ad, you build revenue.

Just bear in mind that ad-free videos may be more likely to keep a viewer focussed on the content you’re providing, especially with the recent development of putting ads in the middle of a video. Something to think about – monetise your content or keep it ‘clean’?

YouTube has a great analytics package too, which lets you pull monthly reports on the performance of your video content. It’s great for understanding what people are watching – and what they’re not – to plan your content marketing strategy and double up on what’s performing well.

What’s bad about it?

Big isn’t always better – sometimes it’s just big. Really big. The sheer scale of YouTube means you’ll be competing with just about the whole world for space. It also means that while the scope for audience is almost limitless, it may not always be the right audience. YouTube videos are generally open to comments, unless you restrict this, which isn’t a good look for a business. Bear in mind that people may not always comment positively and top line ‘negative’ reviews – shown as a count of ‘thumbs down’ – could be damaging.

Viewers can also ‘flag’ videos, so if someone isn’t happy about your content, there’s a chance YouTube may remove it. This doesn’t happen too often and as long as you’re playing by the rules and not offending anyone, it shouldn’t be a problem. But an audience of 1 billion raises the odds that someone, somewhere, might dislike something for reasons that aren’t clear, which could be frustrating and time-consuming if your content is pulled.

One last downside to YouTube is that you can’t ‘carry over’ views from one version of a video to a new one. If your video has 100,000 views and you decide to update it, you’ll lose the prestige of that high view count.

So what about Vimeo?

It’s a bit of a reality check that a service like Vimeo, with around 170 million users, could be regarded as ‘niche’ in comparison to YouTube. Vimeo may be smaller, but what it lacks in gargantuan proportions, it seems to make up for with a more supportive and constructive community.

While you can upload free of charge, Vimeo operates on a different model and concentrates on paid accounts. It has a range of packages that cost between £6 and £70 per month depending on your needs. There’s an upside though – paying means priority uploading, where the quality of the video is better than YouTube. It makes your videos look and feel sharper and takes up slightly less bandwidth for the user. Vimeo subscriptions also come with a support package that involves real people, whereas YouTube leaves you to find your own way.

With Vimeo, there’s a customisable, embedded player with lots of options – including embedding your own logo, unlike YouTube, which constantly shows its own logo. Naturally, this lends itself to a more professional feel. You can also match the player to your brand’s look and feel, which the player will then automatically apply to all your videos.

As with YouTube, Vimeo has its own analytics and there’s a pretty strong case that they’re better. You can segment audiences more easily and extract reports that are detailed down to each video – including where and when viewers stopped watching.

Vimeo doesn’t allow ‘pre-roll’ ads like YouTube, so viewers can watch your video content without waiting or skipping annoying commercials. Again, this helps to keep the video clean and maintains focus for the viewer. Finally, Vimeo allows you to update videos, so you can overwrite an older video and keep your comments and views.

The negatives of using Vimeo

While you don’t necessarily have to pay, if you want to get the best from Vimeo, then you do. There’s the number one drawback. The free option only allows uploads of 500MB per week, which it’s easy to get through, so realistically, it’s a paid service.

The lower level paid accounts have weekly upload limits, albeit much larger, and while the higher-priced Business and Pro accounts don’t, they’re not cheap. Then there’s the much smaller subscription and user base than YouTube – meaning less traffic to consume your content. The base is growing, but it has a long way to go until it’s the size of YouTube.

As a last point to consider, there’s a slightly grey area around promoting a product or service on Vimeo, which requires a Pro account. The confusion arises over whether or not something like a ‘How-to’ style video counts as promotion – but it’s not up to you. It’s up to Vimeo. If they think it breaches the rules, they’ll pull it.

So… which platform should you choose?

Your video platform of choice really does depend on what you want to achieve. Both YouTube and Vimeo are great platforms, they’re both accomplished services and they’re both well known, albeit not to the same degree.

If you’re a small to medium-sized business and you want to build out your brand and products as far and wide as possible (and you want to rank highly in searches) then YouTube is probably better for you. Just remember that you’ll be left to your own devices a bit more than with Vimeo. If you’re comfortable with the technology then fine, but if you’re a real new starter, you might find that Vimeo helps out a bit more.

If you’re looking for a creative community where you can connect with other video creators, gain some exposure and you want viewers to have a quality experience, then Vimeo may be a better place to start sharing your content. It’s not as big or widespread, but if such a thing is possible in online video content in 2019, it may offer a slightly more premium feel.

At Uniquity, Vimeo is our preferred service for hosting videos because we think the way it embeds on websites and social channels looks better. That being said, we also do use YouTube for its reach.