If you’re a marketer in 2021, it’s likely that video is either a key component of your marketing strategy, or something you plan to do more of in future. According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing survey 92% of marketers now say video is an important part of their work. Meanwhile, 86% of consumers say they would like to see more video from brands this year.
Video is vital, but it can be hard to know where to start with the medium. In particular, where should you host the videos that you’ll use to market your brand online?
In this guide, we explore some of the best online video hosting options and their associated costs. Our aim is to give you a better idea of which hosting service to use for your video marketing.
Option #1: Host on your WordPress website’s media library (don’t do it!)
First off, let us just say: don’t choose this option!
Hosting videos on your own website’s WordPress media library can lead to all sorts of problems, including the potential for insufficient server bandwidth, and the requirement to convert each video into multiple formats. We wanted to flag this up straightaway, since hosting videos in this way might seem simple and intuitive at first glance.
With all that said, WordPress does have some plugins that can alleviate some of the problems surrounding video hosting on the platform.
A decent option to explore is Jetpack by WordPress.com an all-rounder security plugin which includes a video hosting option as part of its Premium subscription (available from $9/month). Jetpack lets you host videos of up to 2GB in size, which will play on your WordPress website without ads – and without the issues associated with hosting videos in your WordPress media library.
Option #2: YouTube
Hosting marketing videos on YouTube is a mixed bag of benefits and disadvantages.
The 5 billion plays received by videos on the platform each day tell us that there’s massive potential viewership to be found via the platform – but issues such as the risk of controversial ads appearing next to brands’ videos are often cause enough for marketers to take their video hosting elsewhere.
There are undoubtedly some great advantages to hosting on YouTube. Uploading videos to the platform is literally child’s play, YouTube’s industry-leading servers provide dependable playback for viewers, and you won’t pay a penny for the service. Furthermore, the mechanism for embedding videos from YouTube into website HTML is brilliantly simple:
- Go to the video on YouTube
- Click the ‘Share’ button under the player
- Click the ‘Embed’ button
- Select your desired option and copy the HTML code that appears
- Paste the code into your web content HTML
And hey presto! The video should now be embedded into your content.
The major downside to embedding YouTube videos into web content is that you have no control over which related videos the player serves to the viewer, after your video has played. This can be especially problematic if YouTube decides to show the viewer a video from one of your competitors, which is quite likely since your competitors will likely produce content similar to yours. If you’re going down the route of hosting videos on YouTube and embedding them into your site, we suggest you learn how to stop related videos from showing up in the embedded YouTube player.
Weighing up the pros and cons, we rate YouTube as a suitable place to host videos if you are a hobbyist content producer. Whether or not the platform is suitable as a complete solution for business users is debatable.
Option #3: Vimeo Pro
Let’s lay our cards on the table: Vimeo Pro is the platform we at Target Internet use to host our marketing videos.
Feature-rich and packed with customisation options, this video hosting solution gives tremendous control to the account holder. There are lots of ways to tweak the Vimeo player to suit your website, including selecting its colour, adding chapters to each video, adding your logo and editing the video thumbnail. Another key benefit is that you won’t get any ads playing after your Vimeo videos, so there’s no chance of a competitor’s content appearing in the player on your site.
Vimeo Pro is a little bit of an investment, with subscriptions costing £16/month. However, we reckon it’s worth the price you pay. The plan provides 1TB of storage per year, and accommodates up to three users per account, which should be more than sufficient for most small or medium businesses. The lower-priced Vimeo Plus plan is a little restrictive, while the Business and Premium plans go beyond the average video marketer’s requirements.
Option #4: Wistia
Wistia is a super-slick all-in-one video marketing solution, offering content creation and promotion services as well as video hosting and playback. We reckon it would be an ideal solution for marketers who plan on building a landing page around a really high quality video.
The platform’s video player is designed to provide a high-production-value user experience. Its features include support for HD videos, and adaptive bitrate streaming that can modify video playback quality to match fluctuations in the viewer’s internet connection.
If you’re interested in Wistia, we would strongly suggest you try the Free version before you buy. This will give you most of the tool’s functionality, although the videos will carry Wistia’s watermark until you upgrade to a paid subscription. Wistia Pro, the standard paid version of the platform, costs a cool £76/month. This investment will take a chunk out of your marketing budget, but it’ll also give you a truly premium hosting solution that’s suitable for very important videos. Its also well worth checking out their Video marketing guide which is an easy to follow basics primer.
Option #5: SproutVideo
Since its launch in 2010, SproutVideo has steadily grown to become a leading name in video hosting.
The platform is focused on privacy and security, with features such as geo-restricted video access, time-limited embed codes, and password- and login-protection on a video-by-video basis. These features could make SproutVideo an ideal option for businesses which plan on posting licensed video content that’s only cleared for broadcast to certain territories, or those that plan to offer certain content on a paid or subscription basis.
With all that said, SproutVideo’s video player isn’t all about useful restrictions. Many of its best features are actually aimed at opening up possibilities, such as customising the player’s appearance, video looping, and support for 8K Ultra-HD video.
Option #6: Swarmify
Here’s a recent entrant into the video hosting market that has really caught our eye.
Swarmify is a different breed of video hosting platform. It continuously scans your site for videos uploaded via other platforms such as YouTube, then converts those videos into a Swarmify video. Once converted, the videos are housed in a custom player, free from adverts, watermarks and other disadvantageous features.
The jewel in Swarmify’s crown is the quality of its hosting, which is marketed as “the world’s fastest”. The platform taps into a content delivery network (CDN) which uses servers around the world to ensure content is delivered quickly to viewers, pretty much wherever they are. If your brand targets customers around the globe, Swarmify’s guarantee of snappy playback for people everywhere could prove invaluable to your video marketing performance.
Swarmify is also available as a WordPress plugin, which could prove to be the ideal solution for video marketers seeking a workaround to the shortcomings of that platform’s video hosting.
Option #7: Hippo Video
This clever platform specialises in distributing and personalising videos. Marketed as a “video customer experience platform”, it enables users to create personalised videos and send them to sales prospects and other contacts via email.
Hippo Video integrates with marketing platforms like MailChimp, Gmail and Salesforce, so it can be used easily as part of your email marketing workflow.
This strikes us as an excellent and original route to marketing personalisation. What could be more personal than a video of your team member speaking directly to the contact?
A $15/month Hippo Video Starter subscription for sales use gets you 200GB bandwidth, plus the option to export videos created with the tool to your own website.
Option #8: Vidyard
Here’s another interesting option for marketers seeking a video hosting solution that’s also great for video distribution.
Vidyard combines video hosting and creation with distribution options for sales, internal comms and marketing. The platform’s hosting offering is very good, with support for high-quality playback and ad-free videos. It has a particularly simple video upload interface, with the capability to upload files via drag-and-drop.
Quite a lot of this platform’s capabilities are aimed at video distribution, so we would regard it as best suited to marketers who will get lots of use out of that side of its functionality.
Vidyard’s pricing ranges greatly, from $15/month or free for a stripped-down version of the platform, to $300/month or $1,250/month for high level users.
Option #9: Brightcove
If it weren’t for the fact we’re diehard Vimeo Pro users, we would probably be hosting our videos with Brightcove.
This powerful platform taps into one of the best CDNs we’ve come across to power video playback for major brands and streaming platforms. It uses multiple files for each video, and switches seamlessly between video versions based on the user’s bandwidth connection speed.
Brightcove is a very, very good video hosting option – but it’s also a costly one. With plans starting at $199/month, Brightcove is the most expensive option featured in this guide.
What is a content delivery network (CDN) and how does it help with video marketing?
You may have noticed a few of the hosting services we’ve mentioned use something called a content delivery network.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers spread across different regions and/or countries. By hosting videos and other content across a distributed network, the CDN can deliver media rapidly to people across the geographical areas it covers.
If you aim to provide excellent playback for users around the world, you should consider using a video hosting platform that taps into a CDN.
How to choose a video hosting platform
Most videos hosting platforms offer either a free trial period, or an affordable version aimed at low-volume users. We strongly recommend taking advantage of these options and testing a few of the video hosting platforms that seem well suited to your brand’s needs. At this stage, use the platforms to host low-priority videos that will play a relatively minor role in your video marketing.
By testing a few different options in this way, you’ll be able to get a proper sense of the differences between hosting platforms, and what each one has to offer. Once you’ve decided which you like best, go ahead and take out a subscription that will suit your marketing strategy.