Explainer Video Hosting

SELF-HOSTING VERSUS YOUTUBE: WHICH IS BETTER? When it comes to video hosting for your explainer video, these days you have a ton of options. While it used to be you...


explainer video hosting options 700x390 Explainer Video Hosting When it comes to video hosting for your explainer video, these days you have a ton of options. While it used to be you had to either publish the video yourself or publish it on YouTube now you have available to you third-party hosting like Wistia and TinyPic where you can “self-host” the video. Furthermore, while YouTube is the biggest, it certainly isn’t the only social sharing site for video out there. Each video platform, video CMS and video social share site has its upside and downside. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Self hosting

To clarify, when I say “self hosting” I do not mean uploading the video file to your own web host and serving it from there. I do not recommend uploading your video files to your own server unless you are very technically savvy in the realm of video and self-hosting. Besides the fact that you will be trying to compete with the compatibility and performance of video share sites giants like YouTube, you will also have to be sure your video is HTML5-compatible, that you have adequate bandwidth to serve your videos (and even so, you video will most likely be served more slowly than YouTube) and you will also lack the free analytics that YouTube and other video share sites offer. When I say “self hosting,” I am referring to the use of video hosting services such as:
  • Wistia
  • Vimeo for Business
  • Sprout Video
  • Vzaar
  • Viddler
  • Viewbix
  • Brightcove
  • Vidyard

Benefits of self hosting

Capture direct traffic One of the biggest benefits of self-hosting your video is that you can implement the video on your website and capture traffic directly.

Increase conversion

This allows you to analyze your traffic and capitalize on those metrics under the umbrella of your website traffic. Plus, serving the video on your own website can minimize the number of steps a lead has to take before converting.

Minimize distractions

Self hosting your video gives you the added advantage of serving your video in a branded environment (your own website) as opposed to YouTube where your video is served amongst competitors and other distracting videos (who doesn’t love dancing cats?).


If you have created a shareable video and fans are sharing links to it with would-be fans, you’ll see a greater benefit from these links if the video is served from your website as opposed to via YouTube.

Drawbacks of self hosting

Higher cost

The cost of using a video hosting service will be notably higher than video share sites, which are often free.

Technical challenges

While many hosting services tout “plug-and-play” simplicity, the truth your video embed code may not be supported by your CMS. Implementing the video onto your website might be more difficult than you expected, especially if your website is responsive.

Social sharing

While YouTube and other video sharing sites are riddled with distractions, it does offer the advantage of billions of eyeballs all searching for new and interesting videos to watch. Using social media, search engine optimization and paid search effectively will be the key to getting people to you website to actually watch your video.

Video distribution

Benefits of video distribution

When I say video distribution, I’m talking about syndicating your videos on video share platforms, which may also be considered social sharing sites. Here is a list of some of the largest and most well-known networks.
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Dailymotion
  • Metacafe

No cost

This option gives you the benefit of free hosting; video share sites make their money via the traffic your videos bring and subsequent advertising clicks they get. In fact, if you have enough traffic to your video you could even earn money by allowing ads to be served via your content.

Fewer technical challenges

Most video sharing sites accept various video formats and once you upload your video with a few clicks you can publish it in a wide variety of sizes, mobile optimize it and have access to detailed analytics.

Social sharing

Video share sites like YouTube and Vimeo have millions of people subscribing daily (source: YouTube) and these people are all searching for new, interesting things to watch. With billions of hits each month, your potential audience on a video social share site is huge. Furthermore, the potential for your video to be shared on other social networks is greater as well.

Referral traffic

While you won’t necessarily get direct traffic from a video share site, if you optimize your profile and/or channel properly you can get great referral traffic from links in your descriptions and video calls to action.

Drawbacks of video distribution

More steps to conversion

If you use YouTube or another social share site, you can try to drive traffic to your website via annotations, your profile or a hyperlink in your description but the truth is most viewers will move on to another video after watching yours. So, if you do use a social share site, make sure you are making the best use of video SEO, calls to action and video conversion optimization.


While closing comments on your video is possible, doing so limits how quickly and effectively you can build a community around your videos and/or channel. That being said, if you are going to leave comments open on your YouTube account, you should definitely be monitoring them. Comment spammers will take advantage of an unmonitored account and you will need to allocate man-power to make sure your account doesn’t get overrun.


On certain video share sites like YouTube, you have limited access to advanced settings like uploading your own thumbnail and annotations unless you allow advertisements to show during your video. While you can make money off of these advertisements, at the same time showing ads during your video can look unprofessional and may promote your competition.

Why limit yourself to one option?

The great thing is that you don’t have to choose one of the other. Because of the nature of video and search engines like Google, you won’t get a duplicate content penalization for publishing your video via several different methods. If you have the time, money and/or manpower, it makes perfect sense to maintain one or two video social networking profiles as well as self-hosting your video on your own site.

Next steps

Check out these choice articles and find out explainer video dos and don’ts and how we create awesome explainer videos.

Wade Koens

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