Before we get into the costs of free video hosting, let's start with what's great about it. We'll use YouTube as an example since it's practically synonymous with free web video.
YouTube can be a great resource for driving traffic and interest to your own site if used properly. Here are the ways we recommend businesses leverage YouTube.
YouTube is the world’s largest video search engine. Optimizing your videos so that they can be discovered on YouTube is a great strategy to increase your visibility and help to spread your brand.
YouTube has become the de-facto standard for video embeds and is supported by every social network, blog, and web interface out there. If you’re creating viral content that you want bloggers, tweeters, and facebookers to share, you should be getting your content onto YouTube.
YouTube can help drive brand-awareness, but the ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your website. Can a viewer buy your product on YouTube? Nope. You need to hook them and bring them back to your site.
There is a cost for all this free video hosting. The root of this issue really comes down to a difference in priorities. Your priority is to use video to drive more business. YouTube’s priority is to maximize the visitors that stay on YouTube in order to drive ad revenue. You want to bring visitors to your site and YouTube wants to keep them on its site.
YouTube needs the ability to make money on every piece of content that enters their system. So be aware that when you upload to YouTube, you're granting them license to do whatever they want with your content. Here it is in their terms of service.
"...by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels."
Perhaps the most obvious drawback of using YouTube embeds on your website is all of your videos will now feature YouTube's logo in the bottom right corner. Would you display an ad for your web hosting provider on every page in exchange for free hosting? Not likely.
Want to embed a YouTube video on to your company’s site? Great idea, except for one thing: you’ve now created a permanent link on your website right back to YouTube -- not the best idea for your sales funnel. And more than that, at the end of your video, YouTube displays a list of "related videos". Imagine your product demo finishes playing and YouTube pops up your competitor's products!
YouTube is an entertainment destination. And just like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, it’s blocked by corporate networks around the world. If you’re selling to other businesses, you should be certain they can see your videos.
The Bottom Line
Treat free video hosting as free advertising for your company or product. Drive interested visitors back to your website like you would with any other marketing channel so that you can push those visitors through your funnel.