native vs third-party video hosting: pros and cons
Once you’ve got quality video content, you want to share it across the internet. The question is, where should you host your video content – directly on the platforms you’re posting it, or via a third-party host like YouTube? The choice matters more than you might think.
In this post, you’ll learn about the difference between native and third-party video hosting, and receive the pros and cons for both types of hosting for social media and for website.
native vs third-party: what's the difference?
Before going into whether you should host/publish your videos natively or via a third-party video platform, let’s clarify what these two options mean.
Native video refers to video content that you directly upload to a website or a page that you manage. For social media content, it means uploading a video file from your computer to the platform. For website content, this means hosting the video file on your website.
In contrast, third-party video hosting is when you host a video on a third-party site and embed/share it elsewhere. The most popular sites for hosting videos are YouTube and Vimeo. For instance, you can upload a video to Vimeo, and then use that video’s unique Vimeo URL to share it on Twitter.
Some video platforms (e.g. YouTube) will host all your video content for free – with the downside of viewers having to deal with adverts. Other hosting platforms (e.g. VidYard) offer paid solutions that give you more control over the viewing experience.
video for social media
NATIVE social video - PROS & CONS
All the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc) allow you to natively upload and post videos to their platforms. How native videos appear on social media varies platform by platform. But generally, they will autoplay (on mute) in the feed as a user scrolls past it.
In general, social media platforms favour videos that are posted natively. As a result, they also tend to perform better. Why? Platforms like Facebook and Twitter want you to stay on their site for as long as possible. They know that users can watch native videos without being directed to leave their site for a different site like YouTube.
Another feature for native videos that differs between platforms are video analytics. Most let you see the number of views your video has gotten, while others go further and provide metrics on video completion rate, viewer retention, average watch time and more. Plus some platforms (Facebook, Instagram) even allow you to edit the uploaded video file before publishing it (e.g. trimming it’s length).
But with these different platforms come different requirements and limitations when it comes to video length, aspect ratio, file size and more. So it’s not always as easy as uploading the same file to multiple platforms. And there’s the hassle of actually waiting for your video to finish uploading to the platform, depending on the file size.
Favoured by most social platforms
Performs better on Facebook
Benefit of autoplay on Twitter
Most platforms provide video analytics for native content
Option to edit video content before posting
More hassle with uploading
Have to consider different platform requirements & limitations
Not all platforms let you choose/upload a thumbnail
third-party social video - PROS & CONS
Alternatively, most social platforms give users the option to share their videos on social media via links to third-party sites. The primary purpose of this option is to allow users to share videos they don’t own to their feeds. But it can also be used for videos you do own, but are hosted elsewhere.
Why might you choose to do this? It’s great for people wishing to promote their YouTube channel and gain more views on YouTube. Additionally, it means you don’t have to take into account different platform’s requirements – the host does all the work for you.
However, not all social media sites – most significantly Instagram and TikTok – allow you to post videos from third-party links. Even for the sites that do, you won’t get all the options and advantages you get with posting native video. After all, the platforms you’re posting on do not like users directing other users to off-site pages. Also, if you use a more niche video hosting platform, you’ll need to check whether it is compatible with the social media sites you use.
Good for increasing YouTube channel views
Don’t have to adhere to differing specs & requirements
Most platforms provide previews for third-party videos
Not accepted by all platforms (e.g. Instagram)
Not favoured by social platforms as directs traffic away
video for website
native website video pros & CONS
One way to display videos on your website is to upload the video file to your website. Natively adding video files to your website involves the same process as adding image files. The biggest benefit to native website video is the fact that you have full control over that content. This includes options such as appearance , player controls, autoplay, looping and more.
To show you what this can look like, we’ve natively embedded our 2021 showreel below:
But it’s not without its disadvantages. Namely, there are various factors to consider when uploading videos to your website. For one, videos tend to have large file sizes. These can take up a lot of server space and affect page load times. Thus, you might want to consider compressing your video files. Secondly, the video file type can affect the playability of your videos. MP4 files are compatible with all browsers but other file types will not work on certain web browsers.
Ad-free content – less annoying for visitors
You have full control
More professional look – no YouTube/Vimeo logos
Free (provided you have enough space)
More placement options
More hassle to set up
Videos can have large file sizes – takes up server space, may affect page speed/load times
Need to consider format/file types
THIRD-PARTY WEBSITE VIDEO - PROS & CONS
Perhaps you want to have your video content on your website without having to upload and host it on there. In this case, third-party hosting might be for you. The process for this is fairly straightforward. On YouTube, go to your video page, then find the share button and pick the ’embed’ option. This will provide you with a piece of code to add to your webpage wherever you want your video to appear. Alternatively, some website hosting platforms like WordPress provide video blocks where you just need to paste the video URL.
Here’s our 2023 showreel, this time uploaded and hosted on YouTube. Notice the difference in the player’s appearance:
Alongside not having to worry about website speed or server space, third-party hosting platforms also mean you get access to in-depth video metrics. But the biggest issue with this option is the lack of control you have over your video content. For instance, its fairly easy for users to download your video content from a site like YouTube – which might be a problem for you. You also can’t avoid YouTube adverts, and these third-party links can easily direct people away from your website.
Various free hosting options
Don’t have to worry about website load times or server space
Access to in-depth video metrics
Google owns YouTube
Paid solutions typically required for more sophisticated hosting options