Video platforms are websites that allow users to stream web videos and upload them through an account. They are a popular distribution channel for videos of all kinds, but mostly short clips, music or elaborately produced short films. Video platforms are part of the interactive Web 2.0 since users are both consumers and prosumers here.
User-generated content is one of the main reasons why video platforms are very popular. Other names are video portals or streaming services.
Examples of video platforms
There are numerous video platforms on the Internet that differ significantly in terms of their strategic orientation, user groups and popularity. What they all have in common is the fact that users can participate passively and actively. You are free to stream only or produce and upload a video.
While YouTube, as the market leader, addresses a broad target group, other portals such as Vimeo focus on a segmented user group, which increasingly consists of artists, musicians and creative people who put their specially produced content online. Other video portals such as Hulu, on the other hand, rely on a freemium model that offers more content in a premium version than in the freely accessible free version. On the other hand, many video platforms are financed by advertising that is displayed when a user watches a video.
YouTube is probably the best-known online video portal based in San Bruno, California and was founded on February 14, 2005. YouTube currently has more than 1 billion users per month. The founders are three former PayPal employees Steve Chen, Jawed Karim and Chad Hurley. On October 9, 2006, YouTube was taken over by the search engine operator Google for 1.31 billion euros.
According to their own statements, more than 4 billion hours of videos are viewed on YouTube every month. In 2011, YouTube had more than a trillion views. This equated to roughly 140 views for every person on Earth. Due to the large number of members who regularly upload, comment and rate videos, YouTube has become the market leader in a very short time. In March 2008, the market share was 73%.
In August 2012, YouTube Movies was also launched in Germany. Numerous cinema films, documentaries, tutorials or instructional videos or screencasts are offered free of charge in this area. In addition, YouTube enters into numerous partnerships. In Germany, for example, film material from partners such as the television station ZDF or the football club FC Bayern Munich is displayed in the “Promoted Videos” category. In comparison to YouTube, the video portal Vimeo, for example, does not offer any advertising.
Vimeo is a video portal that was founded in 2004. The special thing about it is that video clips may only be posted by the producers themselves or by those involved. In contrast to other portals such as YouTube, no advertisements are displayed within or next to the videos. Professional users can also upload films that are subject to a fee.
Vimeo was founded in 2004 by a group of filmmakers. The aim of the platform was and is to share creative film work and personal moments with others. When choosing the name, the founders opted for an artificial word consisting of the words “video” and “me” thus creating the connection with individual works in moving images. It is also said that the term “Vimeo” goes back to co-founder Jakob Lodwick, who developed it as an anagram from the word “movie”. Today, Vimeo stands for a video platform that is supposed to shine primarily through its quality.
The entire project is not financed by advertising in or next to the clips, as is the case with other video portals but is supported by contributions from professional accounts.
Vimeo offers its users additional functions beyond video upload:
- Videos can be shared with other users.
- It is possible to exchange ideas with other users.
- Feature films by young or alternative filmmakers can be viewed on the platform for free or for a fee.
- Video content can be streamed on an HD television, for example via AppleTV.
- New video creations can be discovered under the “Staff Picks” section.
- Users can create their own “streams” with their favourites.
- Videos can be uploaded in HD quality.
Hulu is an online video portal where users can enjoy a free video on-demand service. On its Internet platform, Hulu offers a large number of television series, feature films and cinema trailers from providers such as ABC, FOX, NBC, MTV, Comedy Central and many more for free.
Users can stream them without having to register. Hulu.com is offered by several US media companies, including NBC Universal, Fox and Disney-ABC. This CNN video shows an insight into the service. Hulu offers users a wide range of series and movies for a low monthly price. These are transmitted in very good quality and can be accessed via a wide variety of mobile and stationary devices. Operating and setting up the service is very simple.
Hulu Plus is the provider’s payment model, which has been on the market since November 2010. While only a few episodes of the various series are available when using Hulu for free, users can access the series offered without restriction via Hulu Plus. This applies to current seasons as well as previous seasons. Another difference to free use is the video quality.
On Hulu Plus, many videos are broadcast in HD quality, while on subscription-free Hulu, standard quality prevails. The fee-based service enables access via a large number of end devices. Although users pay to use it, the service is not ad-free. According to the provider, the advertisements should ensure that the monthly costs for the users remain within limits and that the media partners are fairly remunerated.
Importance of online marketing and social media
The importance of video platforms in marketing, social media, branding and even politics should not be underestimated. Depending on the popularity and user group, there are various opportunities for marketers: The image of a company can be designed. The affinity to a company, a product or a service can be increased. Users can be lured to websites to increase traffic. Viral campaigns can be launched.
Last but not least, important signals can be sent to search engines, so-called social signals. These show search engines that new content is available and that some user interaction is taking place. Phenomena such as the last elections in the USA or the Arab Spring also show that video platforms have now acquired a political dimension.
YouTube as the market leader
YouTube is one of the most important online organs of today. In addition to the supposedly largest video portal YouTube, there is also Hulu, a video-on-demand portal, and Twitch, a live-streaming portal for video games. With the high market share of 73% and the ubiquitous presence, it seems almost impossible for other video portals such as MyVideo or Clipfish to assert themselves against the market giants. YouTube is available in 53 countries and 61 languages and has an online version.
According to Alexa, YouTube is number three of the top 500 sites. Ultimately, the takeover by Google Inc. also contributed to the high growth figures of 25%. The combination of the two market leaders is probably the most lucrative in the entire online market. YouTube has almost completely replaced music television, which was particularly popular in the 1990s, and is increasingly being used as a marketing channel.
It can also be observed that more and more political discourses are published on YouTube. The presidential duel between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was broadcast live on the YouTube channels of various television stations. This enables the viewer to give direct feedback through the comment function. In this way, majorities can also be formed on current topics.
YouTube also played a very important role in the Arab Spring. The freedom struggles were documented by videos, some of which were recorded by mobile phone cameras and then uploaded to YouTube. In this way, more freedom fighters were encouraged to take part in the revolution in the respective countries and the world had an insight into the situation of the insurgents.
Vimeo as a creative video platform
In contrast to the strong Google portal YouTube, Vimeo can certainly not call up nearly as many users. However, the average user on Vimeo differs from the consumer on YouTube. Because the affinity of the users is already given by the fact that Vimeo is geared towards artists and creative people. So if you want to address agencies or professional advertisers with your video clips, you should keep an eye on Vimeo as a high-quality publication channel. If you want to reach the masses with video marketing, you should probably use YouTube and other platforms.
In order to rank well in the universal search in the area of vertical video search, it can certainly make sense to upload videos to Vimeo as well. However, you should make sure in advance that your own Vimeo account also corresponds to the network’s claim to publish creative and artistically valuable clips.