How to Select an Appropriate Marketing Video Hosting Service - dummies

How to Select an Appropriate Marketing Video Hosting Service

By Kevin Daum, Bettina Hein, Matt Scott, Andreas Goeldi

If you decide to use a professional video hosting service for your marketing videos, you first need to find one that fits your needs. Dozens of services are out there with different feature sets and price points.

Here are some of the most popular:

  • Brightcove: Offers a broad range of packages starting at $99 per month and extending to configurations that serve some of the largest media companies in the world. Though this large provider is quite sophisticated, its main drawback is that it’s comparatively difficult to use.

  • Kaltura: Targets larger companies but also has a free, downloadable, open source edition of its product for the technically inclined. Hosting plans start at a few hundred dollars per month.

  • Ooyala: Primarily focused on media companies and their sophisticated needs, such as ad management. Packages start at $500 per month.

  • Viddler: Offers video hosting services starting at $50 per month. The least expensive version from this former YouTube competitor is limited, but the somewhat more expensive packages are competitive.

  • Vzaar: Offers a bare-bones edition starting at $29 per month, though its more sophisticated versions are in the price ranges of its competitors.

  • Wistia: Specializes in video hosting for marketers. Prices start at $29 per month, and it provides acceptable analytics and sharing functionality.

  • Vimeo: Has recently introduced Vimeo Pro, a business video hosting service, for $199 per year. The product from this public platform (like YouTube) has a customizable player and no ads.

To find an appropriate provider, follow these important steps:

  1. Calculate your view numbers.

    The most important thing to consider is the number of video views you expect. Most hosting providers have limits on the number of views that are covered by a price level, so start by estimating your volume needs. Obviously, you can’t accurately predict the popularity of your videos before you start publishing them.

    For a rule of thumb, assume that 20 to 40 percent of your site’s visitors will watch one video, and maybe 10 percent will watch several. When you review your website statistics and make this calculation, you should end up with a reasonable estimate.

  2. Decide which features are particularly important to you.

    Ask yourself whether you need great flexibility in player styling or whether you’re happy with a bare-bones player that stays out of the way. Determine whether you need sophisticated analytics, down to the behavior of individual users, or only a broad number of views.

  3. Sign up for free trials.

    Most hosting providers provide free trial periods, and you should sign up for a few to see which one you like best.

  4. Test thoroughly a couple of your favorite services.

    Spend some time with every product, and avoid making a decision based only on your first impression. Sometimes, an attractive user interface turns out to be clunky, or missing the single feature you truly need. Upload at least a couple of videos to every platform you want to test, and play through the whole process, ending with publishing a test video to your website.

Selecting a hosting provider is a somewhat technical decision, so you may want to find professional help. If you work with people in an outside web agency, they may be able to help you select a provider. If you work with a video production company, someone there may have input too.

Take advice from people who have worked with online video. Ask for a reference site where they have published videos using the recommended hosting provider.