You, Too, Can be on YouTube
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to add video to your Web site —complete with analytics on who’s viewing that video—YouTube.com has an enticing offer: We’ll do it for free.
In a move to become the defacto platform for video on the Web, the company has rolled out a series of free tools that essentially enables any organization to edit, post and analyze viewership of a promotional video at no charge.
It’s an offer worthy of serious consideration, given that more than 10 billion videos were watched by 141 million U.S. viewers in December 2007, according to Web research firm Comscore. Another online research firm, eMarketer, offers an equally persuasive perspective: By 2012, 88 percent of all U.S. Internet users are expected to be watching video online.
Indeed, a number of auto collision industry firms have already taken YouTube up on its offer. Pasadena, Calif.–based Hilton Auto Collision Center, for example, has posted a promotional video of its services and easy financing options on YouTube. Pearson Road Collision Repair, in Paradise, Calif., uses video testimonials on YouTube to win potential customers’ trust.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Technical Colleges has posted a video promoting its collision repair program on YouTube, and Texas State Technical College Waco touts its Auto Collision & Management Technology program. While YouTube has been courting Web users with its free tools for awhile, its most recent introduction of free analytics tools, dubbed “Insight,” is what has really begun turning heads in the business community.
“Uploaders can see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they are relative to all videos in the market over a given period of time,” says Tracy Chan, YouTube’s product manager. “You can also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it takes for a video to become popular, and what happens to video views as popularity peaks.”
Essentially, whether you’re looking to experiment with Web video for the first time, or you’re an experienced user looking to cut costs while increasing the sophistication of your Web video promotions, YouTube’s free solution is tough to beat.
Here’s a breakdown of how the service works:
VIDEO TOOLBOX TIPS: Once your raw video footage has been shot, YouTube offers a helpful editing tips section (youtube.com/video_toolbox) with advice on how to get the lighting, transitions and sound just right.
There’s also specific detail on how to upload a video from a cell phone or other mobile device, and a forum you can use to ask others to help brainstorm a particular editing problem.
VIDEO PLAYER: Once you’ve posted your completed video to the site, you can copy a snippet of YouTube-provided code that will enable you to create a YouTube player on your Web site in seconds.
The player, which is also free, can be quickly dropped into your corporate blog as well, onto a company social network or in virtually any other Web-based environment.
You have the option to post the YouTube player “as is,” with its familiar chrome border and YouTube logo. Or your Web designer can customize the player with its own “skin.” That customized look can feature your company’s logo, as well as a look and feel that’s distinctive to your company. (In both cases, a faint YouTube watermark appears in the right-hand corner of your video.)
The player creation tool also enables you to optimize your video for the search engines by allowing you to include titles, descriptions, ratings and viewer comments associated with your video.
For a how-to video on adding the YouTube player to your Web site, check out: youtube.com/youtubeonyoursite. There’s also a separate how-to video for customizing your player. From the YouTube home page, click on “help” in the upper-right corner of the screen. Then click “General Help Center.” On that screen, scroll down to the “Advanced” section, where you’ll find a link to the “Custom Players” help section.
The real beauty of the player is that the technology enables you to display video on your site while shifting the associated hosting and transmission costs to YouTube. The reason? While the player is embedded on your Web site, your actual video is uploaded onto and viewed from YouTube’s servers. So it’s YouTube’s servers that are picking up the bandwidth transmission costs.
That scenario is especially ideal for small businesses that are interested in reaching out to Web video viewers with a number of offerings, but have little or no budget to do so. It’s also an excellent insurance policy for any firm that happens to produce a video that goes “viral”—i.e., a video that becomes an overnight sensation on the Web and is viewed by hundreds of thousands or even millions of viewers. For most firms, the onslaught of that kind of attention generally results in crashed servers and countless missed sales/public relations opportunities. For YouTube, it’s nearly an everyday event that the company has learned to accommodate.
VIDEO ANALYTICS: Once your video and player are in place, you’ll also be able to use YouTube’s free video analytics service to glean deep insight into the popularity of your video, who’s viewing the video, and where those people are coming from.
A fresh analytics report is issued each day, so you’ll be able to track spikes in viewership against your roll-out of new marketing campaigns or any media coverage your company happens to receive on any given day.
You’ll also be able to see how viewers found your video—whether by searching on YouTube or Google, browsing under “related videos” on the YouTube site or via a link to the video from your own email marketing campaign or from another Web site. And you’ll also be able to tell if viewers are watching your video from the YouTube site, or from the YouTube player you install on your site.
Another metric that Insight offers is the ability to identify the search queries visitors use to find your video—information that can be used to make informed decisions on the kind of keywords your company may want to bid for on Google-sponsored links, and similar sponsored links programs on other search engines.
YouTube plans to add even more analytics features from Insight in the coming months, according to the company’s blog. To take advantage of the freebies now and in the future, log in to YouTube (accounts are free and easy to create if you don’t already have one), click “My Account,” then “Videos.” You’ll find a button there labeled “Insight,” where you can learn all about the service.