We recently conducted an (unscientific) survey of media professionals to answer the question “Does self-hosting videos on a website make them appear more professional than embedding them from a service such as YouTube or Vimeo?” Responses fell into three major categories:
- “Use a video hosting service.”
A plurality of respondants felt that there is no longer a stigma of hosting videos on external services like YouTube and Vimeo and that, in fact, using these services provided additional benefits such as ease of accessibility and avoided the undesirable characteristics of a walled garden model. They strongly preferred service-hosted to self-hosted videos.
- “It doesn’t matter how you host it.”
The second, smaller group were agnostic to the hosting method as long as it was quality content. They asserted that the credibility stems from the creator, not the delivery mechanism. This suggests that while the hosting of your videos may not matter, the rest of your web presence should project an air of professionalism if you want your videos to be viewed that way.
- “It depends.”
The final group of media professionals felt that the circumstances mattered a good deal. One respondant pointed out that signalling theory (as in economics or biology) applies to the degree that if an organization can waste money on self-hosting, then they are signalling economic health by showing that they have money to waste, in the same way that an opulent lobby is a signal of economic prosperity. While this might be of important to some organizations (investment banks for instance), others (such as non-profits) might be negatively impacted by the appearance of profligate spending.
As for individuals and job seekers, the entire third group agreed that YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting services were perfectly acceptable solutions for portfolios of creative work.
While perceptions of self- vs service-hosting may be different outside of the media industry, it does seem that, among media professionals, there is only a percieved benefit to self-hosting in very specific cirumstances. In general, the old adage still reigns: Content is King. So focus your efforts on creating good content, and take advantage of the work others have put into providing ways to host it.