Recently, I was brows­ing a world-class out­door gear man­u­fac­turer for a pair of waders. I was directed to a PDF, which led me to a video that was posted on YouTube. When I clicked on the video link, it took me away from the brand site, and I started to think about the value that YouTube really offers retail­ers and brand man­u­fac­tur­ers, in general.

Pre­sum­ably, mar­keters pub­lish their videos to YouTube to get more expo­sure. So, shouldn’t that be mea­sur­able? Yes, we can look at the rev­enue par­tic­i­pa­tion of that con­tent if the vis­i­tor returns to the brand site and how many vis­i­tors have seen a YouTube video and found their way to an out­door gear man­u­fac­turer (through a refer­ral URL). But there are many ele­ments we can’t mea­sure when host­ing videos on YouTube as com­pared to a brand manufacturer’s own web­site. And more impor­tantly, we can’t opti­mize the expe­ri­ence or pro­tect our brand from our com­peti­tors buy­ing adver­tise­ments over it!

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With Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ager video capa­bil­i­ties and Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, you can cre­ate out-of-the-box reports on stream­ing video and usage trends, and mea­sure and ana­lyze video’s impact on conversion.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of host­ing brand and prod­uct videos on YouTube.

In terms of cost, YouTube is free to host, though it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that noth­ing is really free (we’ll talk about ads later). YouTube also has a wide reach, easy uploads, and excel­lent shara­bil­ity via social media channels.

How­ever, there are some down­falls to host­ing a video on YouTube as a brand man­u­fac­turer. For exam­ple, although it’s easy to upload videos on the actual YouTube site, it can be dif­fi­cult to then embed these videos on your own site with a cus­tom player that seam­lessly inte­grates into your design and experience.

There are also brand con­sid­er­a­tions. When you upload to YouTube, you can’t con­trol the per­cep­tion the con­sumer has of your brand. Often, “related videos” will show your com­peti­tors, and the YouTube logo will always be on your video player. Related videos shown after your video ends may lead traf­fic to a competitor’s site instead of your company’s. There’s really no unique brand­ing avail­able on the YouTube plat­form unless you spend a lot of money to become a Part­ner, and even then you’ll have to deal with ads in some form.

And then, there’s the SEO aspect. When you host com­pany videos on YouTube, you won’t receive SEO credit for your videos dri­ving users to your site.

Finally, it’s very dif­fi­cult to opti­mize the videos you pub­lish to YouTube. Although there are some basic ana­lyt­ics that allow you to mea­sure views and the more valu­able “esti­mate min­utes watched” and “aver­age view dura­tion,” there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of insight you could gain when host­ing the video your­self. For exam­ple, where do most view­ers stop watch­ing the video? Hav­ing the video pub­lished on your own site, you can then also test dif­fer­ent ver­sions of your videos to see which best meet your goals. There’s no A/B test­ing avail­able for your videos on the YouTube platform.

Mov­ing Beyond the YouTube Basics

Another impor­tant point to note is that although YouTube is a great place for new com­pa­nies to start, many even­tu­ally out­grow this free video pub­lish­ing solu­tion. As your com­pany grows or con­trol­ling your brand becomes the high­est pri­or­ity, it becomes more impor­tant to get traf­fic back to your site.

In short, although YouTube can drive aware­ness of a brand, it doesn’t drive traf­fic to a brand’s web­site with­out a great deal of work. After all, YouTube’s pri­or­ity is to keep vis­i­tors on its site to drive ad rev­enue. And most impor­tantly, a user can’t pur­chase a prod­uct on YouTube.

Host­ing on Your Own Website

Host­ing videos onsite can be a great way to show your company’s unique brand. Many online video plat­forms (OVPs) even offer auto­mated YouTube pub­lish­ing, which means you can receive all of the ben­e­fits of the YouTube audi­ence, and mit­i­gate the “cons” above.

The best video com­merce plat­forms also allow you to opti­mize your videos and make sure that the expe­ri­ence is tar­geted and rel­e­vant to each con­sumer along the way. You can do A/B test­ing or dynam­i­cally assem­ble the con­tent, depend­ing on who is view­ing the video. For exam­ple, you can test the effec­tive­ness of an inter­ac­tive video, with or with­out prod­uct or ser­vice detail call­outs embed­ded in it. You can also test dif­fer­ent video lengths to val­i­date the ideal time for hold­ing con­sumers’ atten­tion or the effec­tive­ness of a par­tic­u­lar pro­mo­tion within a video.

video-detail-report

Hav­ing the video on your own site allows you to boost brand engage­ment. This con­tent will encour­age cus­tomers to linger longer on your site, turn­ing casual browsers into loyal cus­tomers. With your own online video plat­form, you can also cre­ate per­son­al­ized, inter­ac­tive video with click­able calls to action, inter­ac­tive rollovers, and cap­tions that lead vis­i­tors to other con­tent on your site, guid­ing them on a jour­ney toward your con­ver­sion goal.

Going back to my exam­ple of learn­ing about how a par­tic­u­lar man­u­fac­turer makes their waders, if they would have guided me to a prod­uct dis­cov­ery path to choose the right waders for me, I prob­a­bly would have pur­chased in that visit. Instead, I was on YouTube and as you can imag­ine, well, I started watch­ing other videos on wader reviews, then fly fish­ing guides adven­tures, then des­ti­na­tions to fish … even­tu­ally mov­ing on to other things.

Other OVP ben­e­fits include:

  • Work­flow efficiencies
  • Abil­ity to add client tes­ti­mo­ni­als, embed­ded sup­port­ing materials
  • Built-in ana­lyt­ics capabilities
  • Inte­grated con­tent man­age­ment system
  • Videos can be tai­lored specif­i­cally for e-commerce
  • Social engage­ment kept on your brand site

When search­ing for an OVP, you should keep all of these qual­i­ties in mind and find a plat­form that best meets your needs. If you’re won­der­ing what type of con­tent you should cre­ate, see my arti­cle on online video for e-commerce.

eBags

Make your videos easy to find. Notice all the dif­fer­ent ways eBags orga­nizes its videos, mak­ing it easy for users to find them.

Ben­e­fits to Using Both an OVP and YouTube

YouTube has changed how we inter­act with con­tent. This chan­nel can now cre­ate celebri­ties who do noth­ing more than talk about what out­fits they recently bought or who have the most amaz­ing voice in the world and even­tu­ally get a record deal. You want to be there; you just need to think strate­gi­cally about what con­tent belongs there and how to move beyond YouTube on your own site. As con­sumers brows­ing your mobile appli­ca­tions and Web expe­ri­ences increas­ingly desire video to learn about your brand or prod­uct story, you need to move beyond the embed­ded video from YouTube and take full advan­tage of this medium in your dig­i­tal cus­tomer experiences.

Feed­back

Does your com­pany host videos onsite or in its mobile app, or do you believe in the ben­e­fits of YouTube? Or, per­haps you do both? Share your expe­ri­ences below.

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