I’ve had several occasions recently to evaluate video upload/player options for clients, and as a result, I am recommending that, budget permitting, they stay away from YouTubeVimeo and other “free” services due to what I believe is an unnecessary risk to reputation.

Every free video service, and even some of the paid video distribution networks, have what I call “drag.” They pull along a little red wagon full of undesirable content behind them. Positioned alongside this often questionable content, your message could end up sending a viewer to a competitor, or worse still, cause them to be offended.

This tag-along content comes in several forms.

Advertising

Many video upload/viewing sites present advertising messages alongside videos. Revver for example presents subtle Google Ads or banners, such as an ad for Verizon, at the top of the page. I did a search on “women entrepreneurs” and above and alongside serious business videos I was presented with ads for a wacky Martin Lawrence movie, jewelry, and a banner ad promoting a medication for bipolar disorder.

Ads on some sites are extremely inappropriate, offering Viagra and Cialis, or dating services, adding an undesirable sleaze factor to the viewing experience. Perhaps worse is the prospect, quite real, of a viewer being hijacked by an ad for a competitive product or service.

This is not true of all sites. YouTube and Vimeo do not seem to have this problem. I can’t say unequivocally whether this is universal for these sites, but I did not see advertising, other than promotions for other videos, while I was browsing these sites.

Related Videos

Another area of risk is in “related” videos offered by many services that by virtue of a few keywords become informally linked to yours. YouTube, for example, offers a scrolling list of related videos. This offers a multitude of ways for your message to be diluted or connected with something you’d prefer not to have your company associated with.

Delta Airlines ran a contest and identified a real employee to record a safety video, which the company then posted on YouTube. The campaign was a big success, gaining national media attention, and the video has close to one million views (more I would argue than live flight attendants have received in the history of aviation.)

If you visit the YouTube page displaying the video (you get there either by going to YouTube, searching “Delta Flight Safety,” and playing the video, or by seeing the video somewhere else and clicking on the embedded player,) you’ll see YouTube’s list of related videos, which includes one from a disgruntled passenger titled Delta Flight 6499, SEVEN HOURS on the tarmac. Does Delta really want to drive viewers to this?

Comments

Video upload sites that offer viewers the opportunity to comment also pose risks. This is really a problem on YouTube, where it seems there are thousands of people with nothing better to do than leave comments like “this video sucks” and “fail!” Maybe your video IS bad, but a hundred comments confirming this fact don’t help.

There are other ways to upload and play video without exposing your company’s message to these kinds of scenarios. I don’t claim to know everything about either all free video services or paid services, but I do know there are alternatives.

A lot of companies are using Brightcove for example, where you pay by the month based on number of streams viewed. You can “skin” the player with your logo and company colors. It is embeddable, so it can be inserted into a company blog post, social media newsroom page, or on a third-party blog just like a YouTube video. The difference is, you’re now driving traffic to YOUR site instead of YouTube. Sure, more people are visiting YouTube, so if large numbers of views is your goal, I recommend BOTH approaches. Do you own branded embed on your company sites and then upload the same video to YouTube. Brightcove also manages hosting, so you don’t have to worry that demand spikes and bandwidth will be a problem.

There are a number of similar offerings to Brightcove, such as Permission TVMaven NetworksKIT DigitalThe FeedRoom, and VMIXTwistage, and Move Networks. I have singled out Brightcove not because it is the best of these (though it may be), but because I am familiar with it.

Many of the services I’ve listed above, and many others, also offer streaming video, and this is generally done with an embeddable player, so most of the same concerns apply.

So if you want to upload video as part of your communications strategy, remember you have many options, and things might not be as simple as they seem. Make sure that your company’s message isn’t tarnished by being presented in the wrong context.