YouTube is a nice service. Free hosting, free streaming, free player. But using it exclusively to run your increasingly-important video content is a bit like using Hotmail for your business e-mail.
If you’ve stepped up your video use to the point where you are using it to educate, run customer stories, train customers and staff and demonstrate your products and services, it’s probably time to step up your video hosting—and embedding, too.
If you’re creating videos as an essential element of a product or training course, then you definitely need to move away from the YouTube world. Securing videos that you don’t want seen publicly is a bit more problematic in the YouTube environment, as well. (Note: YouTube is still a great marketing platform for some of your content, but not for the backbone elements you need to count on for customers.)
Part of the problem with YouTube use is the OMG-Justin-Beiber-just-put-out-a-new-video bandwidth demands. That’s the reason videos play sometimes and start, jerk and stop other times. Many of my product video run into the multiple-gigabytes, hour-long arena and simply don’t work with YouTube’s service.
In addition, YouTube actually owns the content to some extent and can change how they display, index and stream it at any time.
Serious video marketers are moving their video content to low-cost streaming hosts and are using services to create their own branded video players to embed in their web pages.
Video hosting and streaming is a pretty big drain and requires a serious, dedicated kind of hosting.
Amazon’s S3 hosting has become the go-to resource for online marketers and app makers that require hosting for storage, uploading and streaming. I use it to stream videos for my products, but I also use it to host anything that gets downloaded from my site—such as eBooks—because even a small file that gets downloaded often can drag down website performance.
The service is very easy to use and set up, and files can be uploaded to folders (they call them buckets) from a web browser or an FTP client. You can create direct-download links from S3 files for download, or you can embed the links in a player tool to allow visitors to stream the video from S3.
Part of the magic of S3 is the ability to add Amazon CloudFront, a service that delivers your static and streaming content using a global network of edge locations that effectively allow your video to play from servers around the world. This enhances the potential for lots of smooth streaming access no matter where someone tries to view it.
While it’s theoretically feasible to simply publish the S3 link to your video and let people watch it on whatever video player they have on their computer, you’ll likely need to add a service that lets you create your own video player.
You can use software, such as FlowPlayer, that you install onto your computer and that gives you the ability to create branded players. But online services, such as EZS3, make it extremely easy to create and embed players without having to worry about creating embed code or hosting players.
EZS3 was built to work with Amazon S3, so it’s my tool of choice. Once you give EZS3 access to your Amazon account, you can go to work at creating very feature-rich, branded players, including HTML5 payers that play nice with iPhone and iPad browsing.
EZS3 walks you through a series of steps that allow you to choose from different player styles, colors and sizes. In addition, you can add thumbnails, choose a URL to direct viewers to the end of the movie and even embed forms and buy buttons into the video’s end screen.
As video becomes an increasingly important part of the content marketing mix, businesses have to look to upgrade the tool set they bring to it.
Image credit: dfarrell07