Adding video to a typical website can be a very frustrating endeavor. Between the different video formats and codecs, the large files sizes, and limitations on storage and bandwidth, it can turn out to be a recipe for disaster. The good news is that there are some excellent options to choose from. The key is determining which type of solution best fits your individual needs.
I've organized these different video platform solutions into three categories: free, paid, and custom. Free services provide hosting and the ability to display video on a website at no cost. Paid platforms add cost, but they include very powerful add-ons and features. Finally, custom platforms are designed and built to fulfill your business's unique requirements.
1. Free Video Platforms
You Can't Beat Free
Using a free service like YouTube
to publish videos to a website is an attractive solution. Most well-known free services offer unlimited storage space and bandwidth, social sharing tools, and, surprisingly, smart players that detect the viewer's device and display a compatible video. Setting up an account with any of these services is fast. Integrating video is relatively easy if you have access to the source code or your Content Management System
, such as Kentico
, provides you with this type of functionality.
Sometimes Free Comes with a Different Price
Most of these free services have very strict guidelines regarding how long your videos can be, how large the file sizes are, and also what content the video can contain. For example, YouTube videos cannot be longer than 15 minutes in length, no more than 2GB in size, and the video content must adhere to YouTube's lengthy Terms of Service
The Terms of Service is somewhat vague, but YouTube retains the right to delete your account and all your videos if they think something falls outside their guidelines. Oh, and they don't owe you an explanation either, in fact, you'll be lucky to get an e-mail letting you know that they've left you out to dry. Relying on a free video hosting platform can be a painful lesson to learn if the free service you choose decides your content falls outside it's Terms of Service. Read over the Terms of Service before spending the time uploading and tagging your videos.
2. Paid Video Platforms
Analytics, Monetization, and Reliability
There are paid video hosting platforms out there that address the nuisances of the free services. The only problem with these is, well, they aren't free. Typically, you pay a flat monthly fee that covers your video hosting and bandwidth usage, if you go outside of these parameters you will be billed for the excess much like a mobile phone plan. One service I have fallen in love with is Brightcove
. For $99 a month you can host up to 50 videos with 40GB of bandwidth transfer per month. Brightcove comes with some really awesome features such as:
Cost vs. Benefit
- Video Management and Playlists
You can actually upload the videos and manage them yourself, no need to pay a developer to do so.
- Detailed Analytics
Analytics allow you to see which videos people are watching, for how long, where they are located geographically and more. This could help you refine your content and ensure your videos are engaging viewers like they are intended to.
- Multi-Bitrate Streaming
Automatically detect the speed of your viewer's internet connection and display the best quality video without sacrificing download time.
- HTML5 Smart Players
Everyone has an iPhone or an iPad these days; these devices don't support Flash or Silverlight video players so an alternate delivery method for your content is a must. Smart Players ensure your content is speedily delivered across all devices.
Incorporate ads or integrate cue points within videos to encourage viewers to take action.
- 15 Built-in Player Templates
Choose from professionally designed player templates and modify them to match your company's branding.
- Social Sharing Tools
Give your viewers the ability to share your video right from the player via Facebook, Twitter, and E-mail.
The downside to using a paid solution is that it could potentially become very expensive depending on how much traffic your website receives and how many videos you intend to display. In many cases the benefits are well worth the extra cost, especially if video is an integral part of your marketing strategy or business process.
3. Custom Video Players
If delivering video is one of your business's sole priorities, then this should be a very appealing option. Custom players
can be designed and built to match specific needs by addressing those features you need and excluding those you don't. They can be designed to match your companies branding perfectly, instead of relying on the standard templates provided by the free and paid hosting services. The possibilities are limitless with a custom video player.
Perhaps the only downside to choosing the custom video player route is the initial development cost. Since your player will be built from the ground up, it could take some time and money to develop the features you need to successfully deliver your content in the manner you wish.
To sum things up, it's very important to take a good look at your individual needs before deciding on one particular solution. Each option is full of pros and cons but understanding your specific requirements will help you make the best decision for your business. I suspect as the need and demand for video on the web increases, options for publishing it easily and affordably will also.