Vimeo vs. Youtube: How to choose a video hosting platform

Emily Townswick
Written by Emily Townswick
Vimeo vs. Youtube: How to choose a video hosting platform

Video is arguably one of the most compelling ways to present content on the internet. When executed well, it can be eye-catching, informative, and even downright addicting!

Adding video content to your blog or news posts can boost engagement and lower your site’s bounce rates.

How-to videos are a great addition to an industrial website’s resource section, and product demonstration videos will help to re-create the hands-on experience you might get from a trade show on your product pages.

The question then becomes: what’s the most effective way to serve video to your customers?

Effectively sharing video includes choosing and uploading it to the right video hosting platform. The two biggest players in online video hosting are YouTube and Vimeo. While they do offer many of the same features, they’re not identical and it’s important to compare how they stack up.

This article will dig into the pros and cons of YouTube and Vimeo based on their respective reach, privacy, customization, SEO, and price.

Video Platform Reach

YouTube has over 2 billion monthly logged-in users – and with a parent company like Google, it’s hard to overstate the reach a public video on YouTube can achieve. In comparison, Vimeo boasts a rate of 240 million active monthly users. They both have dedicated communities, but the makeup of those communities differs.

Vimeo has less reach than YouTube, but the reach it does have is more focused and constructive. Everyone is on YouTube, but Vimeo users are on the site for a specific reason. That means that which one you choose will depend on your unique needs, but as a general rule YouTube is the superior choice.

Best option: YouTube, because of its sheer volume of daily users
Consider: YouTube has a larger reach, making it better for general marketing efforts and attempts to go viral. However, if you find that Vimeo has a niche space for your type of content, you can find more constructive engagement there.

Video Privacy

The type of video content you share will ultimately determine the level of privacy you’ll need. General marketing content intended for broad audiences will likely not require high levels of privacy. If your priority is to share a video with as many people as possible, Youtube is your choice. However, when it comes to privacy, Vimeo offers a few more features out of the box than YouTube does.

While both platforms allow videos to be classified as either public or private, Vimeo allows users to password protect specific videos. Vimeo users with a paid plan can also restrict embedding video to their websites only. They can even disallow their videos to be viewed on itself if needed.

Best option: Vimeo, if your main priority is having adaptable security features for your videos
Consider: If you’re reading an article about video platforms, you’re likely not going to be worrying about password protecting or embed restriction. In that case, YouTube would still be an overall better option based on it’s far wider potential viewer base.

Video Hosting Platform Customization

If the style of how your video is presented is an important factor, give Vimeo a try. With a paid account, Vimeo lets you customize the styles of your embedded video (colors, logo, buttons, end screens and more).

Not only can you customize an embed on a video-by-video basis, you can also create a branding style and have it apply to ALL of your videos (including ones uploaded in the past)! While some of these customizable options exist in YouTube too, they are code-based, which means you’ll need a certain amount of familiarity with HTML to get the same effect as Vimeo.

Best option: Vimeo
Consider: It’s okay if you don’t know the specialized HTML needed to customize YouTube videos. All you need to do is connect with a digital marketing agency who can help you out and fill in your expertise gaps. That way you can get the best of both worlds.

Video SEO / Video Analytics

YouTube wins in this category, hands down. YouTube itself is actually the largest search engine on the internet behind Google. Nearly five billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day… and for most of them, they were found via search. If an engineer is looking for equipment-specific how-to videos, they’re far more likely to search via YouTube than Vimeo.

Additionally, YouTube videos generally do better within a Google search than those on Vimeo. When it comes to analytical data, both platforms offer tools to let you see who is watching and how. However, Youtube offers insight into more specific areas, like device type, gender, bounce rates, and more.

Best option: YouTube
Consider: There are plenty of resources out there to help you dig deeper into what can be done with the right analytics data. Check out this HootSuite article about tracking YouTube metrics to start.


If budget is a big concern, YouTube is the way to go. You can upload and share videos free of charge.

YouTube makes their money through advertisements so as long as you’re okay with ads showing up on your videos, YouTube is your best option. If you want to ditch the ads you can always upgrade to a premium subscription to allow your videos to play ad free.

Vimeo on the other hand is subscription based; you don’t NEED a subscription to use Vimeo, but the free account limits your upload amount significantly. So if you plan on doing any significant video marketing on your website, Vimeo will end up being the most costly way to host your videos.

Best option: YouTube
Consider: YouTube has plenty of resources, like this video, to teach you about how their ad program works.

YouTube or Vimeo?

Both platforms have benefits and drawbacks, and those should be evaluated based on your video strategy and goals. If you are marketing highly specialized content to niche audiences, Vimeo’s robust privacy settings can help you showcase video in a highly targeted manner.

If privacy and player customization aren’t as important as reaching the largest audience possible, YouTube will give you the best chance at success.

Whichever host you choose, you’ll still need the right video content to upload first. Get in touch with the team at Windmill Strategy today to find out how we can help you create, produce, and promote the best video content possible.

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