How to Choose the Right Host For Your Online Video

If all you want is a bunch of people to see your latest video, go ahead and post it on YouTube. If you want a lot more people to see that video or you want to embed it in your Web site or use it to bring mega-traffic to your site, you need to look at other hosting services, not just YouTube. And if you use multiple video hosting sites, you’ll want a super-fast, simple way to upload your video to multiple sites. No problem. We’ll show you how to do that, too.

Robin Miller is an independent videographer and freelance writer who was former editor-in-chief at Geek.net (formerly SourceForge) for 10 years. He has written three computer books for Prentice Hall and can be reached at robin@roblimo.com.

YouTube is the king of Web video. Every video you make for public consumption should be on YouTube, and the text description attached to every one of your YouTube videos should contain your Web site’s URL. All embedded YouTube videos have a YouTube logo, which means they’re using your site to promote YouTube. It’s only fair for you to do the same thing in reverse.

A little learning can help your videos go a long way

Before you start posting heavily on YouTube, you should do a little homework at YouTube.com/creators_corner to learn how to get the most out of the site. (All Creators’ Corner info about making quality video applies to other video sites, too.)

Here’s an article by marketing tipster Joe Shaw about embedding YouTube videos in your (or any) Web site. We could do a whole article (or series of articles) about video embedding, but for the moment we’ll leave you with Joe’s tutorial, and talk about other sites where you might want to host your videos.

Dailymotion is not as strong a traffic driver as YouTube, but it’s more than worth your upload time. Video quality is high, and it’s free. Type your site’s URL into the video info space, including http://, and you have a link to your site, which is good SEO. YouTube acts the same way. Neither site allows hyperlinks, so just type in your URL and be happy.

Dailymotion also has a “white box” (unbranded), paid account option called Dailymotion Cloud that costs $0.125 per player hour, which is not a bad considering that it is a complete video solution, including many player and display options, and has no monthly or annual minimum.

Now and then I’ve experienced buffering delays (where a video doesn’t play momentarily because it’s loading too slowly) on Dailymotion, but I get them with YouTube, too. These are often regional problems, and depend on the Web cache a particular video service is using, and how much of a load it is handling at the moment.

Paying for video hosting

Why buy a cow when the YouTube milk is free? Simple: YouTube is an ad-supported service, and if your videos are promotion tools, this means they run ads on your ads. When you pay for hosting on Dailymotion, your videos will not have ads on them — unless you put them there yourself.

In general, paying for video hosting gives you one major benefit over free hosting: control. If your video is of cute kids playing, controlling the way it’s played and making sure there are no ads on it may not be necessary, but for a business video a lack of ads plus control over player appearance and functions are important enough to pay for.

A good but often overlooked paid hosting service is WellcomeMat.com, which caters heavily to real estate people but welcomes other types of commercial videos as well. At $25 per month per account, with no bandwidth restrictions, WellcomeMat is a pretty good deal for all but the smallest video producers.

Brightcove is a video hosting service that starts at $99 per month and goes up into the sky from there. It’s oriented toward large companies that get hundreds of thousands or even millions of viewers for their videos. If that’s not you, look at Easy Web Video for $9.95 per month. WellcomeMat is in between these two extremes. So is Sorenson360, although it leans toward Brightcove in pricing.

Wistia is another mid-priced video hosting service at $79 for 100 GB watched, which is over 200 hours of high-quality standard-definition video. Their pricing page does a better job than most of explaining their fee structure.

Yet another paid hosting service out there is vzaar, which neither I nor anyone I know has tried. Their basic plan costs $49 per month, but other than bandwidth limits, I can’t see what they offer that Easy Web Video and WellcomeMat don’t.

The last paid hosting service I’m going to mention here is Screencast.com, which is run by Camtasia (and Snagit) publisher Techsmith. $9.95 per month, $99 per year is a great price. 25GB Storage and 200GB Monthly Bandwidth is pretty good, too, all from a reliable company that is unlikely go out of business and leave a lot of holes on sites that used to have embedded videos on them.

The best non-commercial video hosts

My favorite video host for my artistic videos, as opposed to commercial work, is Vimeo. I’m not the only one who loves Vimeo. It’s the highest-quality host, which makes it the perfect place to show off your latest music video. Better yet, it has forums that are the online equivalent of a filmmakers’ group, where people like us can critique each others’ work and learn from each other. The one problem with Vimeo is that if they catch any commercial work (as defined here) on their servers, they can and will disable the offending video and, after notice, may disable your entire account if you don’t comply with their request.

I strongly recommend opening a free Vimeo account even if you produce only commercial videos, and heading immediately for their Vimeo Video School. After you’ve gotten all you can out of the YouTube Creators’ Corner, this is the place to go. You can learn here from super-quality indie film people and video artists whose quality the rest of us can only hope to match after years of practice. This is, without question, one of the greatest video bargains on the World Wide Web.

Blip.tv used to be high on my “favorite hosts” list, until one day I got an email from them saying they’d spotted a commercial video I’d uploaded, so they had killed my account. No warning, no recourse, no reply to my “Say what?” email. I have not used or recommended Blip.tv since that experience. No big deal. There are plenty of other video hosts around.

Viddler, Veoh, MetaCafe, and vidiLife are four other video sites I’ve used successfully, but I can’t really say that one is better than the others. They all fall into the “okay” category. There are others, too, with some of the older ones going away now and then, and new ones popping up. Researching video sites is a endless process, not a one-time chore.

One site to rule them all — TubeMogul

TubeMogul is a great time-saver for online video professionals. It’s not a hosting site. Rather, the TubeMogul OneLoad utility is a way to upload short videos to many sites at once. The service is free for up to 100 non-commercial videos per month, and $50 per month for 100 commercial videos per month, with higher-priced options for more prolific producers.

TubeMogul started out as nothing but a multiple-site upload utility and video statistics-tracking service. Now they’re emphasizing other services, but they still provide an excellent one-step video uploading and distribution utility.

There are other video distribution utilities out there such as Pixelpipe.com, but I’ve always had great results with TubeMogul, and have not yet experimented with the rest that I can recommend any of them. Yet.

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