Software Buying Tips

Category Compare: Video Conferencing vs. Web Conferencing

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In this report, we define and compare video conferencing and web conferencing software to help you decide which one aligns with your business goals.

While virtual meetings help project managers, business owners, educationists, and many others to interact with their teams, clients, and classes, data security, audio/video quality, and encryption concerns continue to impair the entire online meeting experience. If you’re going through one of these troubles too, why not consider video conferencing or a web conferencing tool to resolve your challenges?

Video conferencing software and web conferencing software are often confused for one another because both these tools allow users to organize and manage online meetings. While the two platforms do have a lot in common, they are distinct in functionality. Video conferencing tools are used to conduct calls with a limited number of participants, whereas web conferencing systems can accommodate relatively large gatherings and are, therefore, used to stream videos to a larger audience.

Below, we’ll talk about the similarities and differences between the two software categories to help you understand which one is better suited for your needs.

What is video conferencing software?

Video conferencing software enables team members to communicate via two-way audio and video display. The software provides users with several features for effective virtual collaboration, including screen sharing, team chat, and digital whiteboards.

Video conferencing solutions can be used to conduct one-on-one team meetings, online workshops, vendor and customer meetings, seminars, sales demonstrations, and recruitment interviews. Most of these tools offer a recording feature as well that allows users to capture audio, video, and screen shares.

Key features of video conferencing software

The primary features of video conferencing software include:

  • Presentation streaming: Helps broadcast slide presentations to a remote audience.
  • Screen sharing: Allows presenters to share their screen with the participants in real time, which helps them plan, strategize, and brainstorm.
  • Two-way audio and video: Facilitates point-to-point (two attendees) and multi-point (three or more attendees) audio and video communication.
  • Auto-framing: Leverages artificial intelligence to identify all the attendees in the meeting. Keeps the primary subject in focus and frames all the participants for an optimal view.
  • Automatic transcription: Automatically records and transcribes everything said during the meeting in real time.
  • Mobile access: Allows users to conduct and attend virtual meetings from their mobile phones.
  • Private chat: Supports one-on-one conversations between users.
  • Real-time chat: Allows participants to share messages in between meetings.
  • Recording: Records the meeting in MP4 format and allows users to share the recording for future reference or with non-participants.

Examples of video conferencing software

These five products, listed in alphabetical order, are taken from Capterra’s Shortlist report 2022 for video conferencing software. (See the end of this piece for the full methodology for how these products were chosen.)

What is web conferencing software?

Web conferencing software enables participants to conduct or attend online meetings with the help of an internet connection. The software offers collaborative features, such as file sharing, screen sharing, and instant messaging to facilitate virtual meetings. It allows hosts to present to a dispersed audience, regardless of their location.

Usually, a web conferencing platform is used to conduct video meetings, including webcast solutions, tutorial videos, classroom teachings, and webinars, with multiple participants.

Key features of web conferencing software

The primary features of web conferencing software include:

  • Presentation streaming: Broadcasts slide presentations during an online event, such as a web conference.
  • Screen sharing: Enables users to share their entire screen or a particular application window for easy collaboration.
  • Video conferencing: Allows users to connect with participants remotely over the web.
  • Auto-framing: Focuses on the speaker and automatically frames all the attendees to provide an optimal view to participants.
  • Automatic transcription: Uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to convert audio into text, which allows users to search for any particular part of the conversation.
  • Brand management: Allows users to add customized logos and colors to the interface. Also saves time and money by promoting workplace flexibility and real-time communication between employees, which eventually improves the value of your brand.
  • Electronic hand raising: Allows attendees to respond to questions, engage with others, or express concerns.
  • Host controls: Provides special privileges to the host and allows them to control various aspects of an online meeting, such as managing participants or setting entry permissions for the meeting.
  • Private chat: Allows participants to send messages to selected individuals from the entire audience.
  • Real-time chat: Facilitates interaction during meetings via instant messaging.
  • Recording: Allows users to record web conferences and webinars to circulate or play later.
  • Two-way audio and video: Enables all the attendees to hear and see each other, regardless of the device they are using.

Examples of web conferencing software

These five products, listed in alphabetical order, are taken from Capterra’s Shortlist report 2022 for web conferencing software. (See the end of this piece for the full methodology for how these products were chosen.)

What do they have in common?

Both video conferencing and web conferencing solutions are used to facilitate collaboration and communication among stakeholders. Both these tools:

  • are used to connect with the audience virtually over live video meetings.
  • offer functionalities to control the associated audio/visual components, manage meetings and participants, and stream and record videos.
  • enable users to share screens and deliver presentations online.

Which tool is right for your business?

The most simple answer to this is choosing a software system that best aligns with your business’s meeting requirements. For instance, if you have a large number of participants that attend your meetings, you may want to consider a web conferencing solution since it can cater to a larger set of participants. Video conferencing tools, on the other hand, offer a limited participant capacity. Based on the number of participants the tools can support, video conferencing is ideal for conducting conversational and interactive meetings, whereas web conferencing can be used for broadcasting a single message or speech, such as presenting a topic to the audience.

Similarly, if you wish to conduct important meetings more often than not, investing in a video conferencing solution would be the right decision since these tools offer high-definition audio and video quality as compared to web conferencing tools. Video conferencing solutions also allow hosts to gather feedback from the audience in audio/video modes, unlike web conferencing tools that allow only chat as an option to gather feedback.

Once you’ve decided which software to use, head to our video conferencing software and web conferencing software category pages, where you can find a sortable list of products and software reviews from verified users.

If you want to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit Capterra Shortlist reports for the top video conferencing software and web conferencing software solutions—our reports are based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.

How to choose the right conferencing tool for your business

Video conferencing and web conferencing tools allow businesses to bring remote teams, clients, and customers together. Here are a few factors that you can consider before finalizing the best software system for your business.

  • Assess the features you might require: Before investing in a conferencing solution, make sure to understand your meeting requirements and the features you wouldn’t want to compromise on. For instance, you might want extensive collaboration options that allow you to communicate with team members in real time or you may necessarily want an automatic recording option for all your meetings. Some of the popular features that you can look out for in a conferencing solution include multiple webcam capabilities, chat features, unlimited recordings, screen sharing, and dynamic presentation features. Other than these, you can also look for additional features, such as noise reduction and virtual backgrounds.
  • Look at the number of participants supported: Some conferencing tools allow you to include a large number of participants in a call, while others can accommodate only a handful of members. Before shortlisting a solution for your business, assess whether you want to have interactions with an entire group or small, focused groups. In general, if you wish to conduct seminars and training frequently, a web conferencing solution could be the tool for you.
  • Consider the software price: Usually, the cost of a conferencing tool depends on various factors, such as the setup fees, advanced support services, and collaboration options. While the vendors for these products offer multiple pricing models, including monthly subscriptions and one-time license fees, video conferencing solutions tend to be a bit pricier as compared to web conferencing tools since they offer better audio and video quality than the latter. Several software solutions also offer a free version to users with limited functionalities. Based on your budget, you can decide on the solution that best suits your needs.

Common questions to ask while selecting a conferencing tool for your business

Selecting the right video or web conferencing system for your business is important, and asking the right questions can help you immensely. Here is a list of some of the common questions that you can ask vendors before investing in a tool.

What are the available integration options?

An efficient conferencing tool should be able to integrate with popular communication and design platforms, such as Miro, Slack, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. This is necessary to ensure effective collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

What are the available meeting and data security options?

Given that the majority of virtual meetings involve sharing confidential information, it is important for businesses to ensure that their meetings remain secure from unwanted intrusions. Before investing in a web or video conferencing solution, make sure that it offers necessary security measures, such as password or PIN protection, meeting lock, secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption, 128-bit encryption, and adherence to GDPR regulations for data protection.

What are the moderation control options?

Once you’ve shortlisted products for your business and before finalizing one out of the rest, make sure to ask the vendor about the moderation capabilities of the software. A good conferencing tool should allow you to schedule and manage meetings, switch participants’ roles (organizer, presenter, or attendee), create breakout rooms, mute participants, place attendees on hold, and lock meetings.


Methodology

To be included in the top-rated list, the products must:

  1. Be listed under Capterra’s 2022 Shortlist reports for video conferencing and web conferencing software. Learn more about the Capterra Shortlist methodology here.
  2. Meet our software market definition for video conferencing and web conferencing software:
    • Video conferencing: “Video Conferencing software allows businesses to host remote meetings and conferences through two-way video and audio display.”
    • Web conferencing: “Web Conferencing software enables organizations to conduct interactive conferences and meetings via the Internet.”

Note: Reviews and ratings data in the product cards is as of August 29, 2022. New reviews may have been added since the publication of this article, so the reviews data in this piece may not reflect current conditions.

Disclaimer: The products in the category comparison images are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations by Capterra. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.


Looking for Web Conferencing software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Web Conferencing software solutions.

About the Author

Shephalii Kapoor

Shephalii Kapoor

Shephalii Kapoor is a writer at Capterra. She helps small businesses identify the right software for their needs by analyzing user reviews for top-rated software products. Prior to Gartner, she worked as an assistant content manager at InfoEdge India Ltd. She has also worked in company law, aviation, and real estate. She is a published author and has contributed to various magazines and websites. During her free time, she enjoys reading.

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