December 12, 2014 | Chase Cleckner

Wistia vs. YouTube: What's the Difference?

As an online marketing firm, we spend a lot of time reviewing analytics. Numbers help us decide whether certain efforts are worth our time. Because I'm in charge of VIEO's video marketing efforts, I'm particularly interested in tools that help me share and track our videos.

That's why I was tasked with determining the biggest differences between Wistia and YouTube, two of the most popular video hosting sites. So let’s jump right in, or should I say, lights... camera... action! (Sorry, terrible joke.)

Wistia Who?

If you're unfamiliar with Wistia, then a brief introduction is necessary. Wistia was formed in 2006 as a video hosting and analytics company. Their goal is to provide the best video marketing experience possible and to enable businesses to do awesome things with video.

Unlike YouTube, Wistia doesn't have a central, searchable database of videos - they host the videos on their servers, but the videos only appear wherever you embed them, such as on your website.

Pros and Cons to Wistia

Wistia is a video hosting company, but they are also an analytics company, which I believe is their biggest advantage over YouTube. This has been one of YouTube’s shortcomings, though they are finally starting to make improvements.

The standout feature of Wistia is its ability to report how each person watches each video, second by second, with their colorful "heatmaps" (which are a free feature ‒ more about this later).

Heatmap CloseUp

With this information, Wistia creates an engagement graph for your video, rather than a simple percentage of engagement.

It has the ability to show where your audience loses interest and stops the video, as well as where people come back for a second or third time for more information.

Wistia Engagement Graph

As a videographer, this is an incredible feature and allows me to identify areas that need improvement for the next video, along with components that the audience found most engaging.

Another unique feature of Wistia is the ability to add their lead generation turnstile tool to each video. This allows you to turn your unknown viewers into leads, which in turn could become paying customers.

Below, you can see that it can be fully customized. You have the freedom to simply ask for an email address, or you can request the visitor’s first and last name. This is a really useful feature for an Inbound Marketing agency like us.

Wistia Turnstile Email Address

Wistia Turnstile First Last Name

The unfortunate thing about these really neat features is that they come at a cost. In addition to their somewhat limited free service, Wistia has a “Small Business Plan” that costs $25/month, and a “Team Plan” for $100/month, which allows multiple users to be active on the account. This allows team members to collaborate and communicate remotely, whether they’re in the office or across the country.

Quick Tip: The “Team Plan” allows members to not only upload videos, but to add their comments and suggest changes and improvements before the final video is released.

The last downside to Wistia, and an advantage for YouTube, is that Wistia is not a social media platform; it’s simply a video hosting company. There’s no way to gain followers, increase your reach, or to facilitate engagement.

YouTube Who? Actually, Everybody Knows YouTube.

YouTube was created in 2005 to be a place where people could upload, view and share videos. Since then, it has grown to have over 1 billion unique user visits each month, which makes it the 3rd most popular website in the world, according to Alexa.

According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. Now that’s a powerful statistic, but how does YouTube compare to Wistia when it comes to your business?

Pros and Cons to YouTube

We love that YouTube, being a social media platform, has the ability to create a large community of engaged users and even brand advocates. As a company, it’s important to see how we are growing in our marketing efforts, and YouTube allows us to do that very easily.

One neat thing about YouTube’s analytics that Wistia doesn't offer is the ability to tell how people found your videos (traffic source), as well as which device people watch the videos on.

Youtube Analytics Traffic Sources

Youtube Analytics Device Platform

The downside to YouTube is that it is difficult to make your videos responsive whenever you are embedding them into a blog post. When someone is reading a blog post with an embedded video on a mobile device (like this one), YouTube can create a poor user experience because the video doesn't fit properly.

This can result in the user leaving your site and losing the chance to become a lead. Wistia has a feature where you plug in the original embed code and then it magically spits out a new responsive code for you! It’s like putting an empty cookie sheet into the oven and then opening it back up and it’s full of fresh homemade cookies! Okay, well maybe not that good, but still, a very convenient tool for people who don’t know HTML to make videos responsive.

So, Wistia vs. YouTube: Who Wins?

For us, the decision between YouTube and Wistia is a matter of intention. For the more general, day-to-day videos we produce, we use YouTube to help contribute to the growth of our channel.

(By the way if you would like to subscribe to our YouTube channel just click on the disproportionately large button below.)

Youtube Subscribe VIEO

When it comes to more business-focused videos, like our VIEO Team video or video testimonials, we like to host them on Wistia. When reporting and analytics are essential, Wistia is our go-to choice. When it comes to a key business tool like a testimonial, we need to know what viewers are interested in second-by-second to find out what works and what doesn't, so we can fix the problem in our next video.

There will always be pros and cons to any kind of service out there, but it’s our responsibility to leverage the pros of each service to our business’s advantage. Unfortunately, this sometimes requires you to use two different platforms to achieve success - just like we do with YouTube and Wistia.

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Chase Cleckner

Chase Cleckner

As VIEO's inbound marketing project manager Chase worked with our whole team to build a cohesive voice and web presence for VIEO Design.

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