So you’ve invested time, money and effort in producing a number of videos for your business when unexpectedly you receive negative feedback because your site is either loading too slowly, or the video won’t playback properly. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever encountered this problem, it’s likely due to the video being hosted on the same server as your website rather than on a separate dedicated cloud hosting solution for video (otherwise know as an Online Video Platform OVP).
If you intend to use video on your website, you have the choice between either self-hosting your films or embedding them directly using a link or a short piece of code.
The Issues with Self-Hosting
Self-hosting requires some technical knowledge and comes with a slew of challenges. On the flipside, to embed a video, you will need to use a third party service such as YouTube or Vimeo which then serves up your video whenever a visitor hits the play button. It’s fair to say that embedding is generally considered to be a simpler and less costly alternative to self-hosting.
Whilst there are many reasons not to host your videos yourself, the primary offender is usually the negative effects on the user experience. Due to the size of video files, content stored on the same server is far more likely to create unpleasant issues such as slow page loads, buffering or lag.
Buffering is when your video starts to play but can’t download fast enough to remain ahead of the playhead. The result is a video which hangs. When buffering takes place users are far more likely to click away than to stick with it unfortunately.
"In 2012, content owners lost $2.16 Billion in revenue due to buffering issues."
The benefits of embedded video
YouTube and Vimeo are amongst the most widely known and commonly used cloud hosting video solutions. Other options include services such as Wistia, Buto, Brightcove and Vidyard, to name but a few. They’re all great in different ways and have slightly different applications.
So, why should you be using an online video platform:
Users are connecting to the Internet using more devices than ever and the types of connection vary wildly too. One minute you might have a visitor from a super fast fibre-optic connection, the next minute a 4G cellular connection where the quality of connection varies because the user is on the move.
What this means for those who opt to self-host is, you need to create numerous different versions of the same video for use depending on what type of device pings your server.
For example, if a laptop or desktop computer hits your website via fibre or other high speed connection, then you will most likely need a 1080p version of the video at a high enough bit rate to ensure that they see a high quality version of your film, a smaller version of the same film will be needed at a lower resolution and lower bit rate for mobile devices. Cloud hosting solutions take care of this sort of thing dynamically and on the fly.
Shared Hosting and Bandwidth Issues
The majority of businesses will find their website is located on a server which is shared with other users. Because the server is shared, the web hosting companies have a responsibility to control the available bandwidth to prevent any (or all) of the sites residing on that server from going down.
Unless you’re using your own dedicated server, hosting your own videos will eat through your allocated bandwidth in no time. This is all assuming that you have enough space on your web hosting to store your videos in the first place.
Web Hosting and large file sizes
Many web hosting companies impose restrictions on the size of the files which can be uploaded to their servers. It is a tactic which is designed to deter webmasters from uploading any large files which could adversely affect other users on the same server.
Most businesses want their films to be seen by as many people as possible. A common approach is to use email marketing and social media to increase the reach of those videos.
Cloud based solutions are well set up for this whereas driving users to your website limits your potential for discovery. In most cases the potential to go viral is seriously reduced when you host your video yourself.
Security and Privacy
Many content creators are concerned with preventing their videos from being stolen. There are some creative measures available to prevent this sort of thing, such as adding your branding to the film. When you host your content locally, the location of the video is easily exposed in the site’s source code. This means it’s relatively simple for a determined individual to help themselves to your content.
Many cloud hosting solutions offer something called domain restriction. Domain restriction is helpful because it prevents your video from being published in any unsanctioned locations and also makes it very difficult for anyone looking to help themselves to your content.