We’ve all seen it – slow loading videos, choppy/pixelated playback, and even videos that fail to load completely. It always leaves a bad taste.
If you are using video on your website to promote your brand or provide support services to your customers, the speed and quality of your video can make or break the experience.
Avoiding these pitfalls gets even more complicated if you self-host videos on your website. The size of video files coupled with the frequency those videos are played multiplies the risk of negative consequences, from server load issues to storage space overages. What options do you have? Read on to find out.
A little background
A study of YouTube ads by Google, in conjunction with Mondelez International, found that the average brand video used for advertising on YouTube was three minutes long. While the study goes on to explore the ad recall and brand favorability of varying lengths of video, it is the average of such videos that is key to our discussion here.
According to Quora, a three-minute video will come in at about 180 megabytes for an HD video running at eight megabits per second. Compare that to the size of an image file optimized for the web and you are talking about a file that is more than ten times larger.
That fact is not something you should take for granted, search engines like Google and Bing factor in page-load speed to their rankings. Even worse, those gigantic files can bog down your website. Any one of these issues could be a reason to not host videos on-site.
File storage & limited file sizes
Many Content Management Systems (CMS’s) have a file upload size limit. The limit can be circumvented by changing the max upload size in core CMS files or by uploading directly to the server. But, if your hosting solution doesn’t have enough storage you’ll be out of luck anyway. Some hosting providers even limit the size of media files in their contract. If you factor in the size of your website back-ups you could be out of space in no time. Pairing a CMS’s with a limited upload size and a web hosting service with limited disk space is a death knell for any attempt at hosting videos on site.
Note: If you are not pulling regular backups of your website go set it up right now. All it takes is one hack or missed keystroke to leave you with nothing.
Bandwidth and server Load
When you sign up for web hosting through GoDaddy or a similar hosting service, you lock into a contract that states exactly how much processing power and memory you can use for your website. The average hosting plan is designed for a blog or small website, not hosting large video files that can be streamed by numerous users simultaneously. If your website’s resource usage gets too high, some web hosts will even throttle site speed for a period. This can cause users to leave the website due to slow speeds and failed page loads.
The sad truth is that one of two things will happen when you exceed the bandwidth associated with your website: it will fail and bring the whole server down due to overload or you will incur fees for the emergency allocation of resources for your bandwidth overage. Neither option is good.
Video encoding for all devices
To get your video working for all your potential viewers, you will need to convert your video into three different video types at least: WebM, OGG and MP4.
Difference device manufactures and web browsers require different encoding formats for video. So, in order to have cross-browser and device compatibility, you’ll need to spend time and resources converting your videos into different formats. Each of those different video files will be stored on the server, creating storage and bandwidth issues.
Using a third-party video hosting service will (typically) convert your video into a range of formats and serve the right video type automatically, saving you time and stress.
Video theft and control over downloading
For video on the web, most brands want full control over their customers’ interaction, which means making sure your customers see your video the way you intend.
Whether you are posting webinars behind a login or just sharing company culture, there is a real risk of piracy or misuse of your brand’s video content. It can be extremely difficult to deploy video onsite in a way that prohibits duplication, adaptation, or sharing. With a third-party video hosting service, there are typically strong protections in place, with documentation (and a legal team to enforce it), to make sure your content isn’t being misused.
In-house development time and cost
For most marketing teams the hit to yearly budget for basic, in-house web development is too much to afford. If you have a developer, or even better, a team of developers who can do it all, their time is usually in demand. The sheer time and effort required to keep your website up will reduce their ability to jump in and help when the videos start acting up.
Hiring a unicorn who can edit video, manage server load issues, and fine-tune the front-end of your site so the video looks good is expensive making outsourcing the only solution. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to entrust that work to a third-party video service.
What option do you have?
Many large brands have dedicated, internal resources and servers for video hosting. With the proliferation of video hosting solutions on the market, now even smaller brands have a range of options based on scale and cost.
Whether you’re hosting brand videos, tutorials, or cat videos, some of the best offerings are:
Reputations and reliability vary from hosting service to hosting service, but many of the decisions ahead of you depend on what your needs are. Some services are better for volume, video quality, or a lack of ads appearing during video playback. To determine the best choice of video hosting for your brand start by asking these questions:
- What is our budget for video hosting?
- How many views a day do you expect?
- How long will your videos be?
- Does the video need to be 100% on-brand (i.e. are you okay with logo overlays from the video hosting service)?
- Is it okay for ads to appear before/after your videos?
One of the best things about hosting your videos through a third party is that they do all the work of converting and serving optimized videos to your viewers, saving time, server resources, and giving your potential customers what they want how they want it.
Once you have identified what the specific needs and limitations are you can start a search for the service that best fits both needs and budget.
Note: Always make use of any free trials or promotional offers available to really put your options to the test before signing on the dotted line. This will help you identify risks with the service that could cripple your next campaign.