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.

The Case Against YouTube: Smarter Video Marketing Strategies for 2014 youtube subscribers 606x269

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.

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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.

  • Scott J. Camp

    The website should have all the content available, but it's important to note that different audiences are going to utilize different platforms. I'd test thoroughly before choosing only one (if I actually narrowed it down to one).

  • Susana Hill

    sounds like there are lots of things to consider besides YouTube, especially considering the more engaged audience at vimeo.

  • jim

    Thank you for this post - it confirms to me that I am not alone in thinking that YT is not necessarily the only online route to go to for video promotion...

  • Dave

    The case for YouTube is branding in my opinion. Small businesses usually aren't going to engage local customers with this platform. The idea is that people are generally not in a converting state of mind when watching mindless entertainment.

  • Eric Rohrback

    YouTube is one of many sites that marketers should be aware of. There are definitely positives and negatives to utilizing YT, but it definitely shouldn't be your only option. Be aware of your target audience and where they spend their time before you make a decision on where your placing content. YT may be the most recognizable (brand-wise), but maybe not the most effective.

  • Renee

    Thanks for the tips, Chad! Many of my clients find YouTube a bit overwhelming and they have, instead, chosen Vimeo for their smaller audience and to embed videos onsite.

  • Charlie

    I rarely click on the Youtube ads, and I'm equally unlikely to follow a business through a YT link. Maybe for an account that just produces Youtube media, but for a marketer? I doubt it.

  • Terrance Nichols

    This is very insightful. I myself was looking at promoting a youtube channel and with this information when I take that plunge I hope to be able to do it right. The advertising is what drags the process of viewing. I mean it's almost for every video you view.

  • Jeff

    YouTube is a great place to engage an audience, but you don't have any guarantees that they will bring traffic to your website.

  • Sam Simon

    What about the practice of using YouTube for just the player and embedding/integrating the videos on your website versus putting resources into developing your YT channel? What's the case against that?

    You can control the environment around the video (comments, ads, etc.), reach your existing audience and take advantage of YouTube player functionality. I'm all in favor of developing your video outside of YouTube, but it's hard for me to rationalize using a different OVP (especially if it has a cost) or not YouTube beyond you can't serve your own in-player ads.

  • Jamie Burrows

    I have recently discovered vimeo and find their videos more accessible, engaging, and of a little higher intellectual quality. I like kittens playing the piano as much as the next guy, but I see enough of that at home.
    The stat about fewer than 500 views is interesting. I have stumbled across some local musicians that are fantastic, but no one watches their stuff.

  • Patrick

    Great point about advertisers piggybacking! That's probably the most frustrating part about YouTube is that you have to sit through unrelated ads, and a lot of times it can really take away from whatever the message of the actual video is.

  • Jesse

    I've often wondered just how many people will go to YouTube, watch a video, but then decide against going to the actual company website. Personally, I almost never click on after the video.

  • Adam Stetzer

    This can be a difficult decision. YouTube has a TON of audience, but bringing people to your website has better conversion. Online marketing is a bit of give-and-take sometimes.