Why you shouldn’t host your videos on YouTube.

YouTube is the Walmart of online videos.

It’s a giant discount department store, stocked full of everything from “people falling down” to “funny babies” and even an old iPhone commercial featuring yours truly.

The problem with products in big department stores is that it’s very easy for the shopper to get distracted by the product sitting right next to yours on the shelf.  There are too many choices.  Good for the consumer.  Bad for the seller.

Videos are a way of capturing your potential consumer’s attention in the hopes of getting them to convert (buy tickets to your show, sign up for your mailing list, etc.)  You hope for a direct and linear path from that video (or print ad, or radio spot, etc.) to the next step (a visit to a website, calling for more info, etc.).  Any deviation off the path, and poof, your potential ticket buyer could go bye-bye . . . and worse, they could go buy-buy tickets to some other show.

So, what happens when you toss up a video on YouTube and then link to it, or feature it on your site?  If the viewer watches on YouTube, your video has to compete with the many other videos like it that YouTube serves up to keep the viewer in the world of YouTube.  And, if you’ve ever watched a YouTube video, you know it’s fairly easy to get sucked down a wormhole of videos, and quickly forget what you were searching for in the first place.

If videos are important to your marketing plan, find a way to include them in your site, either through your own video player, or by embedding the content into your own pages instead of linking externally to the YouTube department store.  Need an example?  Click that “Yours Truly” link in the second paragraph of this blog to see my iPhone commercial.  Notice, I didn’t link it to the YouTube page.  But rather, I created another page of this blog, and embedded it there.

I kept it out of the Department Store, and in my own boutique . . . which allows me to control the marketing that surrounds it.

YouTube knows what it is doing.  They know how to keep people roaming their aisles, instead of yours.  And you have to be there, just like all other products have to be in Walmart.  So use it as the video search engine that it is.

But don’t use it as a way to get someone further down your conversion path.  Because you may just be sending them down someone else’s.


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  • Liz says:

    I think what you’re trying to say here is you shouldn’t SERVE (direct people to) to your videos on YouTube, not that you shouldn’t HOST (upload them for public viewing) them there.

    Because in your example, the video is indeed hosted on YouTube, it’s just that when you serve it to your viewers, you’re just serving it via embedding on your site.

  • Jupiter says:

    As I waited 45 seconds for your video page to load, I realized exactly why Youtube is great: I wouldn’t be waiting 45 seconds for the page to load.

    Now I’ll give you some great advice. If you want people to watch your video, then upload something of better quality than 240p.

    And if you don’t like Youtube, try Vimeo.

  • Kevin says:

    Agree with Liz entirely. Your headline doesn’t reflect your content and seems to be conflating two separate issues: the technical platform used to host/deliver video content, and where/how it is encountered and viewed by potential audiences.

    To the first question, Youtube offers many benefits over self-hosting and other delivery platforms: it’s free, it has nearly perfect uptime, it seamlessly delivers video to devices that don’t run Flash without additional development work, its player UI is well known, it has a robust API for developers, etc.

    As to the second question, embedding video on your site is highly advisable, as you mention, and linking away to Youtube makes little sense for the reasons you explain above.

    But there’s additional value to having your video hosted on YouTube, which is treating it as a social platform & discovery tool for rabid online video-viewers. I hope that point isn’t missed by people who might take your post at face value and start saying how “bad” it is to use YouTube for marketing.

  • Scott says:

    If you’re developing your own website and linking the videos to YouTube, you can turn off the “feature” at the end of the video that shows half a dozen other “related” links. Your video ends and that’s it. No distractions to other silly videos.

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