Choosing the right method to embed video on your website is a crucial decision which could significantly impact your online presence, the user experience and the results you generate from your video marketing efforts.
There primarily two ways you can embed video on your website: you can upload your video your website hosting providers server and embed the video from there, known as ‘self-hosting’ or you can choose a third-party video hosting platform such as YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, the list goes on.
Spoiler alert – never self-host. We’ll get onto that in a minute.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best ways to embed video on your website based on your requirements. We’ll discus the features, advantages and disadvantages of various methods and platforms.
What does embedding a video mean?
Just to be clear, what do we mean by ’embedding a video?’
Embedding a video on a website refers to the process of placing a video player or video content from an external source within the webpage’s content. This allows website visitors to view and interact with the video directly on the webpage without leaving the site.
The video player typically appears as a frame or window within the webpage, and viewers can watch the video, control playback, and access other features provided by the embedded player.
Self-hosting videos vs third-party video hosting platforms
To embed video on your website you have two options to choose from at the start.
Should you self-host videos or use a third-party video hosting platform?
To make this real simple for you – never self-host videos on your website.
I repeat, NEVER SELF-HOST VIDEOS ON YOUR WEBSITE!
Let me show you why…
What is self-hosting?
Self-hosting video on your website means storing and serving video files directly from your own web server or hosting infrastructure. In other words, you upload video files to your web server, and your website serves those videos to your visitors when they access your web pages.
What are the advantages to self-hosting to embed video on your website?
Well, there’s not that many to be honest.
The only major advantage of self-hosting is that you can customise the player to include your own branding. But you can do that on most video hosting platforms, the good ones anyway.
Why You Should Never Self-Host Videos on your Website:
A major Google ranking factor is your website page load speed. If you’re website isn’t fast enough, Google will not rank it high. This ultimately damages your websites organic reach.
You know, what’s the point of having a website if it’s not going to perform well in search results?
Organic reach aside, a slow website will significantly impact the user experience negatively. Studies show that a fast website will harvest much better results.
In fact, websites that load in 1 second benefit from a 3x higher conversion rate than those that load in 5 seconds. In addition, nearly 70% of consumers say that the time it takes for a website to load can influence their likeliness to buy.
There’s a tonne of other disadvantages to self-hosting, we could be here for an hour or two. (It really gets me going this topic, can you tell?)
It’s safe to say that we advise all of our client not to use self-hosting as a method of embedding video onto their website and we’re advising you don’t either. So that means we do advise that you choose a third-party video hosting platform to embed video on your website.
Luckily for you, we’ve complied a list of our 5 favourite video hosting platforms. They have free plans as well as paid plan which offer unique features.
Let’s compare them…
What is a third-part video hosting platform?
A video hosting platform is an online service that allows businesses and organizations to upload, store, manage, and share video content on the internet. These platforms provide the necessary infrastructure and tools for hosting and delivering videos to a global audience.
Video hosting platforms serve various purposes, including content distribution, marketing, education, entertainment, and more.
What should you consider when choosing a video hosting platform to embed video on your website?
While the video hosting platforms on this list offer a range of extra features that may be best for certain requirements and goals, the 5 key categories we’re going to compare in this article are Ads, Pricing, Analytics, Customisation and Marketing.
In our experience helping various types and sizes of business choose the best video hosting platform for them, these are the 5 key aspect we look at.
So let’s jump in an compare my 5 favour video hosting platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, VidYard and SproutVideo.
Comparing the Different Video Hosting Platforms
Without further ado…
Whilst the cost of a video hosting platform may seem to be the biggest factor in your decision, I have included ads as the top factor to consider when choosing a video hosting platform, especially one to embed video on your website.
Ads will disrupt the user experience and they could even lead users away from your site. You’ve likely spent a lot of effort and money getting them onto your website so you definitely don’t want that.
YouTube will display ads before, during, or after videos.
You used to be able to disable ads, however, as of 2021, YouTube changed its Terms of Service so that even if you choose not to monetise your channel YouTube may still display ads and collect revenue. ‘Ads may appear on your uploaded videos even if you haven’t monetised the videos yourself.’ ‘If you don’t want to show ads on your embedded videos, there’s no way to turn off ads directly on embedded videos only. (Google)’
In addition, whilst not technically an ad, YouTube will present suggested videos once at the end of your video.
You have no control over what videos are suggested, they maybe from different account, they could even be videos from your competitors. Again, when a user clicks on a suggested video they will be redirected away from your site.
Vimeo, Wistia, VidYard and SproutVideo:
Good news is, all other options offer an ad-free viewing experience for both free and paid users. When you embed a video on your website, you can be confident that your viewers won’t be interrupted by ads from third parties.
YouTube will do everything in their power to steal users from your site. For me, that’s a massive reason not to use YouTube to embed video onto your website.
However, it should be noted that though we advise against using YouTube to embed videos on your website, we do advise you upload your video content to YouTube as well.
YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet and boasts over 2 billion monthly users.
Not publishing your video content on YouTube would mean you could lose out on all of that brand awareness.
There are a tonne of great reasons to publish your video content on YouTube but for using it as a video hosting platform to embed video on your website, the fact they’ll run ad, suggest more videos and steal users from your website – I’m out.
With YouTube out of the ‘best video hosting platform to embed video on your website’ race, we’ll now take a compare the rest in the other categories: price, analytics, customisation and marketing.
We’ll still take a look at how YouTube fairs in the next categories.
With plans ranging from free to $319 per month, I expect a major factor to consider for most businesses is the cost. As you’d expect with anything in life these days, the more you pay, the more features you unlock.
A major factor to consider when looking at pricing is the amount of video content you can upload, store and embed video on your website.
YouTube is completely free and you can upload as much video content as you’d like. (That’s why they run ads)
Vimeo offers both free and paid plans. Their paid plans range from £9 to £60 and they also offer an enterprise plan where the cost will be customised based upon your exact needs.
How much can you upload in each plan?
Free – Upload 2 videos per month with a maximum of 25
Vimeo Starter = £9 per month – Upload and store a total of 60 videos.
Vimeo Standard = £15 per month – Upload and store 120 videos
Vimeo Advanced = £60 per month – Upload and store 500 videos
Vimeo Enterprise = (custom pricing) – Upload and store unlimited videos
All uploaded videos are available to embed on your website.
Wistia offer both free and paid plans. Paid plans range from $19 per month to $319 per month.
Free – Upload and store 10 videos
Wistia Plus = $19 per month – Upload and store 20 videos
Wistia Pro = $79 per month – Upload and store 50 videos
Wistia Advanced = $319 per month – Upload and store 250 videos
Wistia Premium = (custom pricing) – Upload and store 1000 videos
All uploaded videos are available to embed on your website.
VidYard also offer both free and paid plan. They have two paid plans priced at $19 and $59 per month. They also offer custom pricing for larger enterprises. With all plans you are able to upload an unlimited amount of video however, you may have noticed that I put ‘all uploaded videos are available to embed’ at the end of the other options.
Strangely, VidYard allow you to upload as much video content as you’d like however, they only allow you to embed a certain number of videos on websites with each plan.
Free – 5 embeddable videos
VidYard Pro = $19 per month – 10 embeddable videos
VidYard Plus = $59 per month – unlimited embeddable videos
VidYard Business = (custom pricing) – unlimited embeddable videos
SproutVideo do not offer a free plan. Their plans range from $10 per month to $295 per month.
SproutVideo base the upload limits off the amount of data which can be hard figuring out exactly how many videos that is – as a general guide a 2 – 3 minute Full HD video will be around 500MB. A high quality 3 minute 4K video will be between 1GB and 2GB.
Seed = $10 per month – upload and store 100GB of video content
Sprout = $35 per month – upload and store 350GB of video content
Tree = $75 per month – upload and store 1TB of video content
Forest = $295 per month – upload and store 2TB of video content
All uploaded videos are available to embed.
Whilst YouTube is totally free to use and you can upload as much video content as you’d like, we’ve already established that YouTube has a major draw back as they will run ads.
This means you’re going to want to choose one of the remaining video hosting platforms.
Therefore, your decision comes down to how much video content you’re planning on producing.
Tracking video analytics is important for several reasons, it enables you to understand your audience better, optimise and improve your content, and ultimately achieve your goals, whether that’s brand awareness, lead generation, or revenue generation. Let’s take a look at some of the most common video analytics:
Impressions refer to the total number of times your video thumbnail or link has been displayed to users on a webpage or platform. It measures the initial visibility of your video.
Views represent the number of times your video has been opened and started playing. It indicates how many people initiated playback of your video content.
Watch time is the total duration that viewers have spent watching your video content. It provides insights into the level of engagement and whether viewers are watching the video in its entirety.
Average percentage viewed
Average percent viewed shows how well your video performed to engage the viewer. Whilst each platform calculates views differently, typically a view is counted after 3 seconds of the video playing. Let’s say you had 1000 views but only 10% of those made it to half-way through the video. That would show the video quality isn’t very good.
Audience analytics provide demographic and geographic information about your viewers. This data includes age, gender, location, and other characteristics, helping you understand your target audience better.
Source analytics reveal where your video traffic is coming from. It can include sources like search engines, social media platforms, email campaigns, or direct website visits, allowing you to assess your marketing channels’ effectiveness.
Device analytics show the types of devices viewers are using to watch your videos, such as desktop computers, mobile devices, or smart TVs. This information helps optimize your content for different platforms and screen sizes.
Advanced analytic – Video A/B testing
Also known as video split testing, A/B testing is used to compare and evaluate two or more different versions of a video to determine which one performs better in terms of viewer engagement, conversion rates, or other key metrics. This testing process allows content creators, marketers, and businesses to make data-driven decisions about video content, ensuring that it resonates with the target audience and achieves specific goals.
Advanced Analytic – Video heatmaps
Heatmaps are visual tools used to analyse viewer engagement and interaction with video content. They provide insights into how viewers are engaging with specific parts of a video, allowing content creators and marketers to make data-driven decisions to improve video content and user experience.
Heatmaps can help in A/B testing by comparing different versions of a video to see which one performs better in terms of engagement and viewer behaviour.
Below is a table that shows which analytics are included in each platform.
We know that tracking your video performance is essential to continuously improving results. If you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum Vimeo and Wistia may be your best options here as they both offer the essential viewer and engagement metrics in both paid and free plans.
As you grow, you may want to improve your video content further, is so then the Wistia Pro can provide you will all of the information you need in order to that but it comes with a cost which means you’ll need to figure out how important it is to you.
Customizing the video player on embedded videos can significantly enhance the user experience by aligning it with your brand, optimising its design and functionality, and providing a more engaging and accessible viewing environment.
YouTube does not currently offer player customisation options such as colour theme and branding.
Vimeo, Wistia, VidYard, SproutVideo:
If you choose one of the free plans you will not be able to customise the player.
Once you have bought a paid plan each platform provides extensive customization options for the video player, allowing you to tailor it to match your website’s branding and aesthetics. You can adjust colours, fonts and player controls to create a seamless user experience. You can even add your own logo to the video player.
None of the free plans offer features to customise the player. This means by sticking with a free plan the player will feature the platforms branding. All of the lowest paid plans give you the ability to customise, for me, that’s worth the spend as it will ultimately improve the user experience and makes your website look and feel more professional.
By marketing I am referring to other features that can help you activate, promote and monitor your videos performance more easily such as email marketing integration, in-video lead capture forms and more. Here are some different marketing features:
Cards / Call-to-Action
Cards are interactive and clickable elements that business can add to their YouTube videos. These cards are designed to engage viewers and provide additional content, information, or opportunities for interaction while the video is playing.
By strategically using YouTube cards, you can encourage viewers to explore more of their content, subscribe to their channel, engage with polls, visit external websites, and support their creative efforts. These interactive elements are a valuable part of a comprehensive YouTube marketing and engagement strategy.
Lead capture forms
In-video lead capture forms allow businesses to collect lead information directly from viewers while they are watching a video on the Vimeo platform.
These lead capture forms are a valuable tool for gathering viewer data, such as names and email addresses, and can be used for various purposes, including lead generation, audience engagement, and marketing campaigns.
A YouTube end screen is a feature that allows content creators to promote additional content, encourage viewer engagement, and guide viewers to take specific actions during the final moments of a YouTube video.
End screens appear in the last 5 to 20 seconds of a video, and they are a valuable tool for content creators to retain audience attention and drive further interaction.
Email marketing integration
Email marketing integration from a video hosting platform refers to the seamless connection and data-sharing capabilities between a video hosting service and an email marketing platform or software. This integration allows businesses to leverage their video content to enhance their email marketing campaigns and engage with their audience more effectively.
Automatically send engagement data to your customer relationship management system (CRM). Some platforms track IP addresses, meaning if you have that person stored in your CRM you can see exactly what they’re are viewing and engaging with. This could help you promote specific offers to them people.
Wistia is the only platform to offer this. Wistia compile viewer data such as gender, age, location and much more to create custom audiences to target on Google and Facebook.
Social Media Integration
Social media integration means that you can publish videos stored on your video hosting platform natively onto various social media platforms.
The table below shows the marketing features that each video hosting platform includes:
Most of the marketing tools are useful. The only one I don’t see being useful to the majority of brands is the social media integration. If you’re serious about social media marketing then you’re likely going to be using a social media scheduling tool, making this integration redundant.
The custom CTA and lead capture forms can significantly increase engagement and conversions on embedded videos. Again, you’ve got to weigh up the costs vs the potential ROI.
Conclusion: Making the Right Choice
Choosing the right video hosting platform for your business is a critical decision that can significantly impact your content strategy, audience engagement, and overall success.
YouTube is a cost-effective choice however, a major drawback is the limited control over ads and suggested videos which will ultimately distract viewer and lead them away from your site. For us, that rules out using YouTube to embed video onto your website.
It’s a shame really as other than the ads YouTube proves to be a great tool to embed video on your website.
VidYard and SproutVideo don’t seem to offer anything extra compared to Vimeo and Wistia. For me, VidYard doesn’t win any category.
Which leaves Wistia and Vimeo.
Vimeo allows you to upload and embed more content that Wistia through every plan so if you’re planning to produce and embed a large amount of video on your website then Vimeo may be your best option.
However, if you plan on producing just a few videos and see the value in the extra analytical data then Wistia could be the best video hosting platform for you.
When selecting a video hosting platform, consider your business goals, budget, content type, and target audience. Regularly analyse your video performance to adapt and refine your strategy for maximum impact.
Remember, the right choice today might evolve as your business grows and your goals change, so stay flexible and open to new possibilities in the dynamic world of video hosting.