Sam Walton would have liked YouTube. The site provides viewers with a range of file options in a well-featured player that offers comments, ratings, likes and captions. Companies who post videos can create their own channels and a host of viewing statistics, plus gazillions of eyeballs. In addition to that, of course, it’s free. I’m guessing that Sam would have liked that just fine.

Whoever makes streaming-related decisions at Wal-Mart these days sure likes YouTube; Wal-Mart is one of the many B2C companies that have transitioned over to YouTube in the last 12 months or so. It’s a significant trend, and if you’re a B2C company who doesn’t use YouTube as your online video platform, it may be time to reconsider.

The Research

First, some background. Every year I speak at multiple seminars for Streaming Media and other organizations. During these talks, I frequently recommend resolutions and data rates for attendees to consider for their own videos. To derive these recommendations, I visit multiple websites, download their videos and analyze the encoding parameters used for these files. Often I follow the same procedure for articles like this one.

I try to identify market leading companies in multiple industries and download videos within these groupings. I’ll Google phrases like “top 20 consumer brands” or “top 10 consulting firms” and then download and analyze their videos. This year, in the consumer brands department, something jumped out at me. 

Specifically, I analyzed 27 sites, and 13 of those sites used YouTube to distribute their videos. The table below identifies the brands and the maximum resolution of the files on YouTube. You can find the complete list of companies referred to in this article, with URLs, on a public Google spreadsheet here.

Max Rez.png

Why Not Use YouTube?

Upon reflection, the only question that comes to mind is, “why not?” YouTube gives you a channel, lots of random eyeballs that may not otherwise make it to your site, compatibility with mobile and some OTT devices, close captions for crying out loud, all the bling that should surround a consumer player (likes, comments, statistics), and it’s free.

In case you haven’t been there lately, YouTube also (long ago) transitioned to very high quality video in a schema that lets your viewer choose the stream. In a series of articles that I wrote back in 2011 entitled Choosing a UGC Video Site, YouTube was the clear winner.

Clearly, all B2C companies need a YouTube channel anyway; if you’re producing videos, there’s really no good reason not to. I just never saw the empirical evidence that so many companies were using YouTube as their sole distributor of videos. Now I have, and it makes total sense. 13 of 27 companies is just under 50%; if you throw out the seven companies that didn’t have video on their site, 13 out of 20 companies with video on their site used YouTube, just over 66%. That’s a very big number, especially considering the brands in the group.

Just for the record, I looked at multiple other categories, and will look at others going forward. Though other companies in other industries also used YouTube, this was, by far, the highest concentration.

To be clear, I’m not recommending using YouTube exclusively. I’m sure that all of these companies offer less sales-oriented videos for employees, partners, and other stakeholders, and distribute them through traditional OVPs or via their own infrastructure. But if you’re a B2C company with videos on YouTube already, why not let YouTube distribute those on your own site?

Everybody Else

Let’s finish the analysis. Seven of the sites, Boston Market, Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, Pepsi, Kit Kat, Guarana Antarctica and Buffalo Wild Wings had no video on their sites (that I could find). These URLs are on the Google spreadsheet as well.

Here are the video-related stats on the seven companies that offered their own videos.

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In case you didn’t know, 320×240 is dead, long live 640×360 and higher. The market has almost totally transitioned over to H.264, and 2.5 mbps (which ESPN uses for their 720p video) is high, but certainly not unheard of. Keep your bits per pixel values under 0.2 or so, and you should have a good balance between data rate and quality.

YouTube Resources

If you’re thinking about using YouTube to distribute your B2C videos, the web is full of resources; here are some that you may find particularly useful.

–  How to Make YouTube Your Online Video Platform, OnlineVideo.net

– Encoding for YouTube: How to Get the Best Results, Streaming Media Magazine.

– My new book, Producing Streaming Video for Multiple Stream Delivery, details how to encode for upload and embed your video, in addition to discussing how to choose an online video platform. 

And, since we walk the walk, here’s a video I produced for OnlineVideo.net entitled How to Upload a Video and Embed it on Your Website; embedded from YouTube.

Enjoy.