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Lesson 9 – Part 3 – Video Hosting Scorecard, Hosting Solutions

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So having said all of that, I want to talk for a few minutes about my score card then, my evaluation of hosted solutions. I have used several different systems in the course of delivering videos on this site, and while we are standardizing with a specific system now it has taken us nearly two years now to decide what technology we are going to fully embrace and how we are going to do it.

Video Hosting on YouTube

We are going to talk about hosted solutions first, and your first hosted solution is of course YouTube. Now in terms of quality YouTube actually has quite high-quality, especially at the 720p their high-definition version of the video. I think that the quality is quite good, and in terms of functionality the video are easy to upload and it is quick to play and quick to deliver. It does have this adjustable bandwidth so if someone does have a slower connection then they can pick a smaller video size and get the video quicker.

A YouTube video has absolutely no effect on your site speed. It doesn’t download any extra JavaScript, it doesn’t place any load on your server, it doesn’t slow down delivery of your webpage or the rendering of your web page and in terms of its impact on your site it is probably has the least impact on your site of all the choices. It is a very quick system.

In terms of visibility, it is very highly visible. While you can’t make a decent sitemap, there are plugins that purport to create video sitemaps for you but they aren’t really going to work as they don’t actually meet Google’s standard as to what a video sitemap has to contain. It still generates an XML file but it is not an XML file that is compliant with Google. So you can’t really make a decent sitemap, but on the other hand Google indexs YouTube themselves and so as long as the video is reasonably popular or is decent or you have a good reputation with Google then your videos are likely to show as if you had created a video sitemap.

In terms of security, there is essentially none. There is the ability to have videos that are unlisted which essentially makes them so they are undiscoverable, and you can post unlisted videos on your secure pages, but the problem is the URLs to those unlisted videos are still sharable so anyone can go ahead and copy that URL and share it with a friend or post it on their blog or do whatever they want and the security is entirely circumvented. So there is really no security available for videos that are hosted on YouTube.

In terms of mobility, it is excellent. YouTube creates a very wide range of video sizes for all of the different types of mobile devices and will deliver automatically the right video for the right mobile device, so in terms of mobility it is flawless. It is excellent. And of course the cost is none. So YouTube is not a bad for a hosted solution. The downside of a YouTube hosted solution is it comes with its own branding, it comes with its own ads, there are lots of things about YouTube that you might, in fact, find objectionable for your commercial use. But in terms of most of the typical considerations, YouTube shines quite well.

Video Hosting on screencast.com

The next one is screencast.com, and this is a hosted solution that I have been using for a couple of years now. Screencast.com’s quality is excellent and they are an unusual hosted system in that they do not encode videos, which means that they deliver whatever video you upload in exactly the same format you uploaded. So if you uploaded a 1280×720 HD video then hosting it with them will not change it in any way.

You can still embed it on a page in a smaller size, but in terms of the quality of the video it is superior. It is as good as if you were self-hosting it. Now that naturally has a drawback, in that it doesn’t have an adjustable bandwidth, if you have a slow connection you can’t decide to get a lower resolution copy of the video because that is not the way it works. It delivers whatever video resolution it has been given. It is quite easy to upload and it is quite easy to organize.

In terms of its delivery, it does begin delivering the video almost instantly, within a second of pressing the Play button the video is going to be delivered. But in terms of its continued delivery, if you are looking at a very large video and you have a low-bandwidth connection or you there is some sort of interruption of your connection, then you may in fact encounter the video stuttering and stopping and having to wait to catch up.

A couple of times a month I get a member who says that is what is happening with those videos, so there is that downside to it. The good news is, again, like YouTube there is absolutely no impact on site speed, so screencast.com does not download any JavaScript when you embed the video, it doesn’t slow down the loading of anything, it doesn’t slow down the rendering of your page. It is a very fast system for delivering the content.

In terms of visibility, there is essentially none. You can have a screencast.com channel, and if you do have a public screencast.com channel it may get searched by Google, but there is no possibility of a video sitemap with them. I was surprised and astounded, the first time I asked one of their support staff about video sitemaps the person didn’t even know what a video sitemap was, so there simply is no way of creating a sitemap of screencast.com.

So in terms of visibility, it is not a good choice. In terms of security, there is also essentially none. You can make your videos private so they can only be viewed by someone who has the link, and you can embed those private videos, but as soon as that video is embedded on a site then the person who has access to that video can grab the URL to that video and can share it with friends, and can in fact download it using that URL to their own computer, and so there is essentially no security with screencast.com.

In terms of mobility, there isn’t any. They will display the video exactly as you display or you upload it, and their method of delivering the video is as Flash. I am sure that this is going to change in the future, but currently videos delivered by screencast.com end up being in a Flash format so there is no real mobility.

The cost is reasonable as it is $100 a year for a fairly high amount of storage and bandwidth. I think it is 25GB of storage and 200GB a month of bandwidth, and up until recently all of the Ecommerce videos and all of the Start Building Your Website Here videos were hosted on screencast, and I never got to the point where I exceeded my bandwidth, and in terms of the storage bandwidth it was always quite low. So $100 a year can be fairly inexpensive hosting for quite high-speed, very high-quality video.

Video Hosting on Vimeo

Your next choice then is vimeo.com. In terms of their quality, I find that the it is quite good especially their HD quality. They have a standard quality and the HD quality; those are pretty much your two choices. The standard quality is acceptable in lots of situations, and the HD quality is, I think, quite good.

In terms of functionality, it is relatively easy to upload videos to the Vimeo site. The videos do start quickly and they do download relatively quickly, and because you can choose whether you want to watch the HD or the standard version it does make the bandwidth somewhat user-selectable. So if the HD version is moving too slowly you can move to a lower bandwidth.

However, it does have some impact on site speed. When you use a Vimeo embed code it does embed, or call, JavaScript files that get called with your page and those JavaScript files do add some incremental load to the loading of your site, and therefore do have some impact on their site speed. Vimeo does provide you the opportunity of rebranding the player, so as long as you have a Pro account or a Plus account you can change the player and you can take the Vimeo off the player.

In terms of visibility, they are very highly visible. In the first place, they are very well indexed by Google. It is an excellent video sharing site, it has lots and lots of users and because of their terms of service it doesn’t have the same kind of commercial garbage that exists on YouTube, and so it has quite a community associated with it. In fact some of my members came to our site because they found our videos first on Vimeo.

Secondly, Vimeo is one of the hosting solutions that provides you with the opportunity to create a legitimate sitemap. Vimeo has two different embed code versions. One of the versions provides you with the necessary information that Google requires for a video sitemap, and so you can use that, what I am going to refer to as their old embed code, for embedding videos and then creating a video sitemap for those videos.

Vimeo also has excellent security. That is, not only can you make videos private, but you can also lock the domain that those videos are played on. The videos can be managed so they cannot be publicly discovered, that is they can’t be found by searching Vimeo or found by googling, and they can also be made so that they will only play on your domain or any number of domains that you happen to add to that specific video.

Their mobility is also excellent. That is, they have two different embed codes. They have the old embed code, which I just referred to, and they have the iFrame embed code and that iFrame embed code automatically adjusts for the mobile device that is accessing the content. So it will play perfectly on a Blackberry, or on an iPad, or on an iPhone, or on any other mobile device. It does an excellent job of detecting the mobile device and the screen size and delivering exactly the right video for that device and screen size. It is superior in that regard.

Now the cost of Vimeo for some of these things is either $50 or $200 for the year. The free version of Vimeo I don’t think is as appropriate for use in delivering this content. You should either have a Vimeo Plus account, which costs you $50 a year, or a Vimeo Pro account that, I believe, costs $200 per year.

The Vimeo Plus account will allow you to create HD videos, to customize the player, it will automatically create the mobile videos for you, it will allow the creation of private videos, and the option of creating domain locks for those videos. However, it does have a limitation. You cannot use it for the delivery of commercial videos. Now that is not necessarily to say that you can’t use it on a membership site, because most of the content you are going to deliver on a membership site is educational in nature and not commercial in nature.

This is something that you will have to weigh yourself when you consider Vimeo’s terms of service. I considered their terms of service and used it for adding our mobile video and some of our public videos, but when they provided the opportunity for a Vimeo Pro account I upgraded my account. A Pro account has all of the benefits of a Plus account, plus it allows you to play and display commercial video.

It automatically makes everything you do in a Vimeo Pro account private, and it will allow you to create public videos and videos that you share on Vimeo, but you have to be cognizant of their terms of service. You can’t put a commercial for your business up using a Pro account and display that commercial for your business on the Vimeo site proper because no commercials are allowed. This $200 a year also buys you 250,000 video views a year and any view that is made on the Vimeo site itself does not count. So if you have videos that you are sharing publicly that can be seen from Vimeo.com then none of those video views count towards your 250,000 views a year. That is quite a good solution, actually, for what is being delivered.

Video Hosting on EZWebPlayer

EZwebPlayer kind of splashed on the market, amongst some internet marketers, as being a very popular choice. One of the reasons is that their terms of service allow you to play whatever you want. So it doesn’t matter what you are playing you can’t violate their terms of service. Now that may not exactly be the case, but certainly from a commercial standpoint any kind of business related or commercially viable video can be played on EZwebPlayer.

But in terms of their quality, I think it is quite poor, even their HD quality. There was a time when I was a little concerned about whether or not I might be in violation of Vimeo’s terms of service so I was looking for another mechanism for providing mobile video, and I used EZwebPlayer for a while for that purpose, but really there was no comparison. Creating HD video on EZwebPlayer produced an entirely unsatisfactory, unacceptable, quality of video.

In terms of their functionality, they are without question the most complicated method of adding and uploading a video to a page. Now that complication comes with some additional functionality, which internet marketers may like. For example, you can add your own commercials to your own videos. Or you can join some commercial sites where affiliate ads can be shown on the bottom of your videos so you can make some money that way.

So there are some features to EZwebPlayer that internet marketers, and then the internet scam artists, really happen to like and that actually might be valuable to you so it is still worth considering. It does have adjustable bandwidth which means that a person can dial down the quality in order to increase the speed of the download.

It does have a JavaScript load when you load a video on the site, so it does have that a little bit of incremental effect on the site. It does have outstanding analytic tools. Part of the complexity has to do with its ability to analyze the statistics of usage so it can tell you how many video views, and where people stop watching, and where people move on, and all kinds of things. If you want to know about the analytics of the use of your videos, it has, I think, tools that nobody else has.

In terms of security you can, in fact, prevent downloads. You can let people view the videos without allowing them to download it or allowing them to view a link, so it does have security controls.

It does have good mobility in that it will automatically create videos for various mobile devices and will automatically detect those mobile devices and display the videos for those mobile devices.

The cost is reasonable. The cost is $15 a month, and that $15 a month has absolutely no bandwidth limitations. No limitations on the number of views, no limitations on the number of plays, no limitations on the number of videos you upload. With your $15 a month you can upload as much video as you possibly want, and as many people can view it as you want. So it is a good understandable cost solution, from that point.

I thought it was going to be great until I saw how poor the quality of the encoding was. For that matter, encoding for my sites is not easy because I have so much white and black. The encoding algorithm looks for changes in the background and if it was a very colorful site with lots of stop action video or something like that, with lots of activity going on, then that would be different. But because so much of my videos are text based, the system for determining whether or not the view should be refreshed doesn’t work very well. If you have talking head videos or videos with lots of actions then it could very well be that the quality of transcoding is good for you.

Video Hosting on Video Press

Finally, I want to talk about VideoPress. This was something I tried very early on; I still have a couple of videos that I am using with it. VideoPress is created by WordPress and they do have a video attachment system, or encoding system. Their quality is acceptable. It is not excellent but it is not as bad as EZwebPlayer. It is acceptable.

Its functionality is that videos are easy to upload and embed, maybe the easiest in that regard. It does have good starting speed and it does have adjustable bandwidth; that is you can choose the video size so that a lower speed video can be chosen.

It doesn’t add any JavaScript to your site, so it doesn’t have any impact on your site speed. Its visibility is okay, primarily because videos are actually hosted and displayed on WordPress.com site. So if someone searches WordPress.com they will find your video. It is essentially video sharing-like because it will sit on your own wordpress.com account. However, there is no opportunity to create a video sitemap so it is useless for that.

There is no security, there are no private videos or hidden videos or any way to prevent someone from downloading the video. It is exclusively for insecure videos. There is currently no mobility. It currently does not have ability to automatically adjust itself for mobile videos. I am sure that will change in the not-so-distant future, but currently that is the way it is.

Its cost is fairly modest at $50 a year, based on a certain amount of storage. I don’t actually remember what that value is, but you can incrementally add storage for another $50 each upgrade, and there is no bandwidth cost. So it does not charge you for views or how often people watch the video or anything like that, it only charges you for the cost of storage, which means that it is a relatively inexpensive solution. However, because of its lack of security and mobility, I don’t think it is an appropriate choice for a site like we are talking about.

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