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How YouTube Videos Impact the Speed of Your Site

In today’s market, a fast and fluid experience is expected by web-browsing consumers.

Any amount of lag in the experience and a visitor is less likely to convert on your site, whether that be making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter. According to Kissmetrics, “47% of users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less” and “40% of users abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load”. These statistics are a clear sign that if you don’t already care about the fluidity and speed of your site, you should start.

Page load speed is widely recognized as an important measurement when building a website, but what about video load speed?

Video has become critical for businesses both large and small. According to the Wyzowl 2017 State of Video Marketing Survey, “83% of businesses say that video provides good return on investment”. Vidyard has observed that marketers who make use of videos grow revenue 49% faster that non-video users. Moovly found that companies that have a video embedded on their website are 53 times more likely to show up first on Google.

Clearly, including video on your website is important, but how do you make sure it’s fast and fluid like the rest of your site?

When YouTube first arrived on the scene in 2005, it almost immediately revolutionized online video. Anyone could create an account and start broadcasting themselves. And while YouTube has spent millions upon millions of dollars developing a great user experience on their site, the company is far less concerned with the video experience when a YouTube video is embedded on another site. This oftentimes makes for a poor experience when viewing a YouTube video off the media platform itself.

After noticing this poor experience when compared to other video players, we developed a tool that measures the load speed of YouTube videos against the same video played our delivery platform, SmartVideo. After measuring the load speed of YouTube embeds on dozens of popular sites such as The Atlantic and The Verge, we found that YouTube embeds load 12x slower on average than SmartVideo.

The reason? YouTube’s embedded player includes quite a bit of bloat. Even if you go through the process of turning off resource-intensive processes such as recommended videos, ads, and overlays, YouTube is still using their player to track your visitors so they can follow them across the web when they leave your site. This makes for slow, disruptive experiences for your site’s visitors. As discussed, consumers don’t like to wait. And just as a slow loading page makes visitors leave, so does a slow loading video.

As we wrap things up, let’s summarize our findings:
• Site speed and fluidity are highly important for the conversion process
• Onsite videos are virtually a requirement for businesses to stay competitive in today’s market
• YouTube is a great platform but is a slow (12x slower), underperforming video player when embedded on your site