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Top pros & cons of using YouTube on your site

Top pros & cons of using YouTube on your site

YouTube videos are embedded on well over 16 million sites today; more than all other video players on the internet. The team over at YouTube is obviously doing something right. However, as great as YouTube is for sharing videos, there are areas that could use some improvement, especially when it comes to embedding them on your site.

The Pros

1. Ease of management

Aside from being the go-to source for finding videos on any topic imaginable, YouTube makes it easy for anyone to embed videos onto their own site.

The simplicity of uploading and embedding a YouTube video has made it a desirable on-site video management option for individual website owners, small businesses, and even those earning hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly revenue.

Upload to YouTube, embed on your site. It’s pretty straightforward.


2. Free hosting

One of the best parts of using YouTube to manage the video on your site is that the content is hosted for free, courtesy of YouTube. As an individual site owner or a small business, the last thing you want to have to worry about (or shell out cash for) is video delivery bandwidth.

YouTube helps keep costs down on your site.


3. Discoverability = traffic generation

If you have uploaded videos to YouTube that make mention of your website during playback or have your URL linked in the video description, then you know how much traffic YouTube can send your way.
Some companies we've talked with see over 25% of their traffic come directly from YouTube. If you took that referral traffic away from those companies, the impact would be substantial.

Although these benefits are significant, it’s also important to consider the negative side effects that come with embedding YouTube videos on your site.

The downside


1. Embeds siphon traffic from your site

As great as YouTube is at sending traffic to your site, they're even better at pulling traffic from it.

How, you ask?

They've mastered the art of using "related videos" to lure users back into the abyss of YouTube. With one click on an eye-catching video thumbnail after the completion of your embedded video, a user is whisked away from your site and thrown into the YouTube rabbit hole, never to be seen on your website’s analytics reporting again.

This might come as a surprise, but YouTube's main goal in allowing you to embed videos on your site is to get users onto YouTube. And, as a site owner, that's the last thing you want to happen.

2. Unprofessional playback experience

YouTube's player has their branding all over it by way of overlays, watermarks, and the "Watch on YouTube button". While that might not be surprising, it is detrimental to the professionalism and brand of your site.


On your site, your brand should be king. You've spent a lot of time (and, most likely, money) to make sure your branding is memorable and effective. If you embed YouTube videos, consider how their watermarks, colors, and logo might overshadow your company’s branding on your website.

3. Low ad revenue ceiling

As your video content section grows, the $3.00 average CPM earned through YouTube's revenue share doesn’t cut it anymore, that is if you're even getting any CPM on your videos at all due to the latest demonetization debacle.

If you want to get serious about earning ad revenue, you'll have to move away from the limited return of embedded YouTube videos. YouTube doesn't allow you to use your own ad network. This means paying for a video player that allows ad insertion and a hosting provider that supports video uploads and streaming. As the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.


4. Nonexistent customer support

YouTube is notorious for their customer support, or lack thereof.

If you have a problem with one of the embeds on your site, you're probably on your own. You can try digging through the user forums, but there is no guarantee you'll find any help for your particular issue.

5. Arbitrary rules

When you embed YouTube videos on your site, your videos are at risk of removal from both your channel and site. With the arbitrary nature of the guidelines the company has set, YouTube could decide it doesn't approve of your message or content and delete it.

So, you have YouTube embeds on your site but want the benefits of a professional video experience. What now?

You have a few options to choose from (some more complicated and expensive than others) when it comes to creating a professional video experience.

Option 1: Put the puzzle together yourself

Step 1. License a video player

Step 2. Find and pay for a host or content delivery network that supports video streaming

Step 3. Partner with a video ad platform

Step 4. Re-encode all your videos

Step 5. Continue uploading your content to YouTube for traffic generation

Pros: no more traffic leaks to YouTube, higher ad revenue capability, more professional playback experience (depending on player choice)

Cons: complicated and time-consuming, expensive, and you still have to upload videos to YouTube

Option 2: Pay an enterprise video platform

Step 1. Find a platform that meets your needs

Step 2. Sign an annual six-figure contract with them

Step 3. Continue uploading your content to YouTube for traffic generation

Pros: highly professional playback experience, increased ad revenue capability, no traffic leaks to YouTube, and less complex than managing your video on your own

Cons: costly, lengthy contracts to be signed, the pricing structure is unfavorable to small-medium sized businesses, and you still have to upload your videos to YouTube

Option 3: Utilize a platform that allows you to keep using YouTube, but automatically switches embeds on your site to professional video, effortlessly

Step 1. Install a script or plugin that encodes, hosts, delivers, and swaps out all your videos and embed codes on your site for you while you keep using YouTube for distribution

Step 2. Continue uploading your videos to YouTube

Step 3. Keep embedding your YouTube videos on your site

Pros: maintains the simplicity of just uploading your video to YouTube and then embedding it on your site, professional playback experience, modern player, less expensive than the other two options, and provides higher monetization capability than using only YouTube

Cons: costs more than using YouTube alone

Now you know the pros and cons of relying on embedding YouTube videos for your site’s video strategy.

It’s great to have a presence on YouTube. They make it very easy (and free) to embed videos on your site, but these benefits come at a price:

YouTube pulls your site’s visitors away, they heavily promote their brand on your website, they strictly control your content, they provide virtually no customer support, and they offer you pennies on the dollar when it comes to advertising revenue.

Make sure to ask yourself the relevant questions when choosing a video strategy for your site. Trade-offs exist, so it’s important to be clear on your overall goals when deciding which path to video success is right for you. By the way; we've created a great alternative to YouTube for on-site video hosting called SmartVideo.

Swarmify created SmartVideo around a simple idea; video is hard but publishers of all shapes and sizes deserve tools that create effortlessly uncluttered, accelerated, playback experiences on their website that load fast and look professional with all-inclusive dead simple pricing and automagic YouTube migration. Start for free today!