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YouTube or a Standalone Online Video Platform?

Online video platform

When thinking of an online video platform, the first word that comes to mind is almost always “YouTube.” This is hardly a surprise, given that YouTube has over one billion users—around a third of all of the people on the Internet. Indeed, thanks to the proliferation of YouTube, there has never been an easier way to jump straight from a tutorial on how to change a tire to a nine hour “Funny Cats” compilation video.
However, if you are a university or an enterprise of any kind, chances are that your goals require viewers to stay focused.  You may want to showcase your brand to as many potential customers as possible. Or maybe you’re trying to encourage the consumption and production of video within your school or organization. Given YouTube’s universal familiarity and low price tag (free), it’s tempting to jump straight to that platform for your video needs. However, it’s important to consider the cons of hosting your online video exclusively through YouTube.

Privacy and Retention

Videos uploaded to YouTube are set to public by default. Yes, the privacy of the video is changeable, but only to one of three settings: public, private (viewable only to the uploader), and unlisted (viewable to anyone who has the direct link). For those organizations or universities who don’t mind having online content publicly shared with the world, YouTube certainly seems like an appealing option. However, for organizations handling more sensitive video content—private CEO messaging, competitive market research, or student video assignments for example—YouTube is simply out of the question.
With an online video platform, organizations and educational institutes alike can control the privacy and dispersion of their video content.  For example, most major OVPs have the ability to add an authentication mechanism prior to accessing video content; a feature that is missing from YouTube. This is a major benefit to companies who prefer to limit online video access to authorized personnel only.
Furthermore, another danger with YouTube is the propensity of a viewer to hop from one video to the next. While a potential customer could be watching your brand-related video on YouTube, their attention could easily be diverted to the side panel playlist of videos that YouTube suggests the user watch next—a playlist that is entirely non-customizable. Before you know it, the customer has moved from your company’s video, to a likely totally unrelated one. (Never underestimate the power of cat videos on the Internet.)

Analytics

using an online video platformYouTube analytics consist primarily of basic viewership and demographic information on a per-video and channel basis. This is suitable if the KPIs you set are very basic and high level. With YouTube, you cannot breakdown analytics on a per user basis—a must for many organizations that hope to track a specific employee’s or student’s video participation over time.
Other online video platforms by contrast contain a plethora of heavy-duty analytic tools at your disposal. In addition to basic demographic and view-count metrics, OVPs allow tracking of users, ability to monitor usage across live streams, bandwidth and storage consumption across the platform and analytics across separate social media integrations just to name a few. Kaltura, for example, has a YouTube distributor that connects from the Kaltura platform to YouTube, allowing companies to take advantage of both the full suite of Kaltura’s in-depth analytics and the basic ones provided by YouTube for public-facing videos.

Customization

Debatably the most compelling argument for a standalone OVP compared to YouTube is the ability for customizations of the platform itself. YouTube users are left with no choice but to accept the current layout and interface of YouTube—and have no say when YouTube introduces new design changes. Want to integrate with LinkedIn? Nope. Want a custom-branded log in and portal? Forget about it. In fact, unless you are a YouTube Partner (who’s exact criteria of membership are vague), you do not even have the ability to upload your own thumbnails for videos!
Standalone online video platforms allow for powerful customizations that enable you to ensure that the portal that you are showcasing to your users—whether a potential customer, employee or student—is entirely your own. This means fully branded skins, players, playlists, channels, all the way down to the size and shape of the “like” button on videos. With a completely customized portal, you have a much stronger control over the content a user sees. This helps maintain attention to your site and reduces the risk of users moving to non-related content. In addition, customizations found on other OVPs allow you to integrate your video content to other social media sites and collaboration tools.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to cultivate your content on a standalone online video platform or YouTube is up to your needs as a business. If you are serious about creating a full-scale enterprise video portal with powerful analytics and customization tools, a major OVP is likely the way to go. Still, it does not have to be one or the other. Indeed, many organizations utilize the power of YouTube by sharing some public-facing videos on the popular site, while maintaining their video portals on their own sites or intranets. After all, YouTube is still hailed as the second-largest search engine; better to have the best of both worlds where possible.

Discover some best practices for online video platforms in this webinar with MetLife.

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