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The Case Against YouTube: Smarter Video Marketing Strategies

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Chad Hill –

According to Econsultancy, 93% of marketers included online video as part of their overall marketing strategies in 2013. In fact, the ReelSEO 2013 Online Video Marketing Survey and Business Video Trends report confirms that 80% of marketers say that video marketing has positively impacted their business. As we move into 2014, those marketers will surely be looking for ways to get more return from their video marketing. As the overwhelming market leader, YouTube has always commanded the lion’s share of the attention when it comes to this particular type of marketing. However, it’s important to look beyond YouTube and consider additional video distribution networks, as well as self-hosted options, to get the best return on this investment

Most marketers undoubtedly want to create more video content. There are more options than ever to create high quality video content faster and cheaper. Video promotion, however, is a harder problem to solve. Sure, the big brands can direct millions of visitors to their website or YouTube channel but the smaller brands and small businesses have to be strategic in attracting new viewers and building a loyal audience.

In years past, YouTube and video marketing have grown to become synonymous with one another. YouTube was the first to market, drives the most traffic, and gives marketers a robust toolset for promoting their videos. For obvious reasons, YouTube can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored but marketers looking for ways to generate a higher return on their video investment must consider all available options.

Audience is King, But it Must be Earned

Videos need viewers and YouTube, according to Comscore, had 159 million unique visitors and 13.3 billion video views in December. The next most engaged audience is on Vimeo, reporting 39 million unique visitors and 142 million video views in December. With such a large audience, it’s clear that YouTube is the first stop for reaching a broader audience.

While the metrics speak for themselves, a 2010 study by TubeMogul showed that over half of videos on YouTube have fewer than 500 views. Top videos of 2013 clustered around music videos like “What does the fox say” or “Harlem Shake”, cute animal videos and few well-produced YouTube mini shows. Among the top videos, there is only one big brand video by Volvo video featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme but smaller businesses are absent from the list.

As a result, marketers can’t just upload their video and hope for the best. The “build it and they will come” approach only works in the movies. In truth, most marketers need to be responsible for creating their own audience and controlling traffic.

The Case Against YouTube

If audience is king, is YouTube the place to be? The chief complaint is that YouTube objectives don’t always align with those of your business. As an example, you can invest time building a subscription base to your YouTube channel but you don’t have a way to contacting them outside of YouTube. Another comment issue concerns the ability for competitors to run ads or show related content around your videos, piggybacking on your investment to reach a very targeted audience.

YouTube’s monetization has accelerated and as a result Google sees YouTube as a major growth opportunity for advertisements. Google is aggressively seeking new ways to leverage this platform within its advertising model, such as integrating with Google+ in an attempt to improve its often-criticized commenting system. YouTube is increasingly attempting to connect your personal reputation to your online activity, a move that generates passionate debate on both sides of video marketing community. On the one hand, Google is looking to create a consistent experience on the web, cut down on distasteful or offensive comments, and further integrate video results into its universal search listings. On the other hand, many users feel this is merely an attempt to force adoption of Google+ and this consolidated approach is actually a detriment to the once-independent YouTube community.

4 Tips to Building Your Own Audience

In 2014 the best advice for producers of content is to take more control of your audience and make your video marketing an interactive process. Here are 4 tips to get started:

1. Build your own list. Always ask for people to subscribe to your YouTube channel but also ask them to sign-up at your website or follow you on social media. You’ll have the ability to cross-promote your non-video content.

2 Use email to promote your content. Email continues to be the best way to notify your audience of new content. Tweets and posts should also be used but you’ll get a capture more of your audience with email. Test different titles and measure open rates and click though rates.

3. Build your video engagement. Set a goal of getting 5 comments or interactions with each video that you create. If you aren’t getting that much interaction you need to focus more on promotion.

4. Simplify the user experience. Once you take responsibility for your driving the audience to your videos, you’ll want to streamline their user experience. This can be done by either building a video showcase on your website or by using a more customizable service like Vimeo. The space around your video should cross-promote your products and services not your competitors.


YouTube and video marketing are synonymous because of the size of the audience but the trade offs you make on control aren’t always worth it. This is especially true for companies that have built a great email list and can direct their clients to their content. For marketers who are still dependent on YouTube for traffic, start working in 2014 on gathering a way to get in touch with your list and then look at the benefits of hosting your video content either on your website or on a platform like Vimeo that offers more control of the user experience.

Source: The Case Against YouTube: Smarter Video Marketing Strategies
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