Is using Vimeo worth it?

Given its sheer size and popularity, Youtube seems like the obvious go-to video hosting and streaming service—particularly if you’re trying to reach a large audience. Google favours Youtube: the platform is free to use, from hosting to analytic tools, and it gives you convenient means for generating revenue.

This might prompt you to ask whether the alternatives are worth using at all. Vimeo is one such popular Youtube alternative, and is a favourite of independent documentary makers and filmmakers alike. So why would somebody choose Vimeo over Youtube, and is it possible to use Vimeo to host commercial content?

Vimeo’s mission statement

“Vimeo was a completely personal art project at first,” explains Jake Lodwick, co-founder of College Humor and Vimeo. “After that, I tried to make it more like Flickr but for video. [Youtube’s] approach is that the creator of the video doesn’t matter—the creator is a null concept that doesn’t apply to a video file. So we [at Vimeo] vigilantly deleted anything not uploaded by the creator. We differentiated ourselves in the market by being a creator-oriented video site. If we had just tried to be like Youtube but smaller, we wouldn’t have been around six or seven years later.”

In many ways, then, Vimeo is very much a content creator-oriented site. For the vast majority of its users, it is as much a creative community as it is a video hosting site.

Creator-oriented original content

For this reason, Vimeo take a very rigid approach to commercial content. “Businesses may not use Vimeo Basic or Vimeo Plus to host videos. If you are a business or wish to upload commercial content, you must use Vimeo PRO.” That includes any content that represents a for-profit brand; any videos containing advertising; videos hosted on behalf of a business (to be embedded in a website); product demos and tutorials; corporate training videos; and content for sale.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use Vimeo. If you were to produce a short, informative or creative video series that did not ostensibly advertise your brand or products, but still included a logo and some original content (or a sponsor), you could use that to generate some value for your website or blog.

For example, one tourist magazine uses Vimeo to produce short films about the local area. This video is a great example of a creative short film that does not directly promote the brand in question or any of the subjects on-screen, but still provides viewers and other Vimeo users with an insightful, original look at its subjects. It is this sort of creator-oriented content that fits right at home within the Vimeo community.

What about Vimeo PRO?

As we’ve mentioned, Vimeo recommends brands use Vimeo PRO for commercial content. While the vanilla site is intended more as a creative community than a video search engine per se, Vimeo PRO is intended for business users and brands alike. It boasts:

  • Multiplatform high-quality playback

  • Up to 20GB of 4K video storage each week

  • Unlimited bandwidth in the Vimeo player

  • Advanced privacy settings, private link sharing, and private review pages

  • No ads

  • Access to Vimeo’s On Demand online video market

  • Full SEO visibility

  • Dropbox integration

  • In-depth stats and analytics tools

and more for £159. They also offer a ‘PRO unlimited’ package with up to 3TB of storage and no weekly limits, but PRO remains the basic business package.

So why would you want to pay extra for this service? By default, Youtube only lets users upload videos up to 15 minutes long, but this can be increased after some verification steps. Youtube also allows for 4K uploads, but put in place a maximum 128GB upload limit. Vimeo PRO doesn’t seem to offer much more than Youtube, and there’s a hefty fee.

However, there are some strong points when it comes to Vimeo PRO. No ads before, during, or after content will be a big draw for many, and Vimeo’s video market management system will certainly be of use to brands looking to directly monetise their content. Perhaps what stands out the most is its advanced privacy settings, link sharing, Dropbox integration and review pages, which allow people to collaborate on content online and even share content solely within an organisation. ‘Power users’ who need to upload hefty 4K video files regularly will also benefit from the generous storage and bandwidth.

Is it worth dropping Youtube for Vimeo, then? It really depends on your needs, but at the end of the day, the two platforms are designed to achieve very different things and do not have to be mutually exclusive!