It’s hard to believe, but it has only been just over a year since Facebook rolled out its Live feature to all its users. YouTube Live saw an earlier release as a beta platform in 2011, which eventually rolled out en-masse not to soon after. Obviously, on-demand video has been a long-standing feature on both platforms, and one used by countless businesses, brands, and organizations to share their video content. But these platforms, while innovative and perhaps most important to many—free, come with many pitfalls that can’t measure up to the video streaming powerhouses that so many organizations pay for.
Free only gets one so far when one considers the potential video advertising revenue from independent platforms compared to the ad revenue Facebook and YouTube monopolize on. Facebook doesn’t support monetization for the user at all, nor does it support security restrictions such as a paywall, simultaneous streams, digital rights management, or analytics. Live videos are limited to 90 minutes, there is zero technical support, and streams are not optimized for higher quality output or large screens, quality being the most important factor for 67% of viewers watching a live broadcast. Content on Facebook is also not indexable. Search engines like Google don’t ever find Facebook posts, including live and archived videos, which is a fatal drawback when it comes to SEO.
YouTube also has fatal flaws, but to a lesser degree. While it supports some level of security restrictions, analytics, and ad revenue, functionality is limited. Customization and branding is also limited. The revenue through AdWords is dismal unless one has millions of viewers or subscribers. Even popular broadcasters struggle to grow ad revenue, and even then, the uploader has zero control over which ads are displayed pre-roll. They can include spammy or offensive content, which reflects poorly on one’s brand. Embedding functionality is poor, there is no technical support, and users must give up distribution rights to their own content.
Clearly, relying on YouTube or Facebook alone to publish and distribute video content can reflect poorly on a brand’s image and, more pressingly, its bank account. Instead of remaining exclusive to platforms that take your hard work and do little in return—like in any bad relationship—you’re better off looking elsewhere. Consider how ad revenue works: user data which is generated from your content is used by ad buyers to pay for spots on your videos. With these platforms, data is collected by them via your video content and sold to buyers at little or no return to you. One can see how the video uploader ends up with light pockets and on the losing end.
Pockets aside, free platforms on which users lack control over ads and other content like spam, offensive content, and negative social engagement can seriously hurt a brand’s image, which can hurt business. Think of your videos as value content. Knowingly or unknowingly, you wouldn’t want to diminish the value of something by putting it into the wrong hands, which can set it down next to questionable content. On dedicated streaming platforms, ad content as well as everything in and around your video is in your hands. This includes design features that maintain brand equity.