YouTube vs. Hosting on Your Own Site

Recently, I was browsing a world-class outdoor gear manufacturer for a pair of waders. I was directed to a PDF, which led me to a video that was posted on YouTube. When I clicked on the video link, it took me away from the brand site, and I started to think about the value that YouTube really offers retailers and brand manufacturers, in general.

Presumably, marketers publish their videos to YouTube to get more exposure. So, shouldn’t that be measurable? Yes, we can look at the revenue participation of that content if the visitor returns to the brand site and how many visitors have seen a YouTube video and found their way to an outdoor gear manufacturer (through a referral URL). But there are many elements we can’t measure when hosting videos on YouTube as compared to a brand manufacturer’s own website. And more importantly, we can’t optimize the experience or protect our brand from our competitors buying advertisements over it!


With Adobe Experience Manager video capabilities and Adobe Analytics, you can create out-of-the-box reports on streaming video and usage trends, and measure and analyze video’s impact on conversion.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of hosting brand and product videos on YouTube.

In terms of cost, YouTube is free to host, though it’s important to remember that nothing is really free (we’ll talk about ads later). YouTube also has a wide reach, easy uploads, and excellent sharability via social media channels.

However, there are some downfalls to hosting a video on YouTube as a brand manufacturer. For example, although it’s easy to upload videos on the actual YouTube site, it can be difficult to then embed these videos on your own site with a custom player that seamlessly integrates into your design and experience.

There are also brand considerations. When you upload to YouTube, you can’t control the perception the consumer has of your brand. Often, “related videos” will show your competitors, and the YouTube logo will always be on your video player. Related videos shown after your video ends may lead traffic to a competitor’s site instead of your company’s. There’s really no unique branding available on the YouTube platform unless you spend a lot of money to become a Partner, and even then you’ll have to deal with ads in some form.

And then, there’s the SEO aspect. When you host company videos on YouTube, you won’t receive SEO credit for your videos driving users to your site.

Finally, it’s very difficult to optimize the videos you publish to YouTube. Although there are some basic analytics that allow you to measure views and the more valuable “estimate minutes watched” and “average view duration,” there is a significant amount of insight you could gain when hosting the video yourself. For example, where do most viewers stop watching the video? Having the video published on your own site, you can then also test different versions of your videos to see which best meet your goals. There’s no A/B testing available for your videos on the YouTube platform.

Moving Beyond the YouTube Basics

Another important point to note is that although YouTube is a great place for new companies to start, many eventually outgrow this free video publishing solution. As your company grows or controlling your brand becomes the highest priority, it becomes more important to get traffic back to your site.

In short, although YouTube can drive awareness of a brand, it doesn’t drive traffic to a brand’s website without a great deal of work. After all, YouTube’s priority is to keep visitors on its site to drive ad revenue. And most importantly, a user can’t purchase a product on YouTube.

Hosting on Your Own Website

Hosting videos onsite can be a great way to show your company’s unique brand. Many online video platforms (OVPs) even offer automated YouTube publishing, which means you can receive all of the benefits of the YouTube audience, and mitigate the “cons” above.

The best video commerce platforms also allow you to optimize your videos and make sure that the experience is targeted and relevant to each consumer along the way. You can do A/B testing or dynamically assemble the content, depending on who is viewing the video. For example, you can test the effectiveness of an interactive video, with or without product or service detail callouts embedded in it. You can also test different video lengths to validate the ideal time for holding consumers’ attention or the effectiveness of a particular promotion within a video.


Having the video on your own site allows you to boost brand engagement. This content will encourage customers to linger longer on your site, turning casual browsers into loyal customers. With your own online video platform, you can also create personalized, interactive video with clickable calls to action, interactive rollovers, and captions that lead visitors to other content on your site, guiding them on a journey toward your conversion goal.

Going back to my example of learning about how a particular manufacturer makes their waders, if they would have guided me to a product discovery path to choose the right waders for me, I probably would have purchased in that visit. Instead, I was on YouTube and as you can imagine, well, I started watching other videos on wader reviews, then fly fishing guides adventures, then destinations to fish . . . eventually moving on to other things.

Other OVP benefits include:

When searching for an OVP, you should keep all of these qualities in mind and find a platform that best meets your needs. If you’re wondering what type of content you should create, see my article on online video for e-commerce.


Make your videos easy to find. Notice all the different ways eBags organizes its videos, making it easy for users to find them.

Benefits to Using Both an OVP and YouTube

YouTube has changed how we interact with content. This channel can now create celebrities who do nothing more than talk about what outfits they recently bought or who have the most amazing voice in the world and eventually get a record deal. You want to be there; you just need to think strategically about what content belongs there and how to move beyond YouTube on your own site. As consumers browsing your mobile applications and Web experiences increasingly desire video to learn about your brand or product story, you need to move beyond the embedded video from YouTube and take full advantage of this medium in your digital customer experiences.


Does your company host videos onsite or in its mobile app, or do you believe in the benefits of YouTube? Or, perhaps you do both? Share your experiences below.