YouTube vs Vimeo: A Comparison of Two of the Most Popular Video Platforms

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74% of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video.

64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.

Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%.

Stats like these are why 2015 has been dubbed “The Year of the Video” for marketers. Consumers and business people alike are watching more video than ever, impacting their online purchasing decisions.

It’s pretty obvious that video is becoming an important marketing tool, with 93% of marketers already using or planning to use video for online marketing, whether it’s through email marketing or marketing automation campaigns.

So where can you host your completed videos? YouTube and Vimeo are two of the biggest and most popular video hosting platforms.

youtube vs vimeo header copy

But which one should you use for your video marketing campaigns? I’ve broken down what I think are the most important factors to consider before committing to a platform.

Form and Function

When you arrive at each of their homepages, YouTube and Vimeo offer very different views.

YouTube instantly displays a variety of videos to watch, including those most popular at the moment and ones recommended based on your viewing activity. It makes the platform seem less like a website and more like a video player.

YouTube homepage

Playing a video is easy; just click the link the it immediately starts to play. However, the opinion these days is that user experience has gone downhill with the introduction of mandatory ads before viewing the video you wanted to watch. (I’ll explain why this is a good thing for marketers later).

Vimeo’s homepage comes off as just another website and less like a video playing platform. It tries to get you to create an account right away, even though you don’t need one to watch videos. And it doesn’t even display videos to watch until further down the page.

Vimeo homepage

The video quality itself is excellent, much better than a lot of YouTube videos (which can be hit or miss). But what truly sets Vimeo apart is its no ads policy. That’s right, your Vimeo viewing experience will never be interrupted by those annoying ads!


One of the biggest headaches for marketers is budget, and that’s where YouTube and Vimeo differ greatly.

YouTube is 100%, completely free. You can upload a video, create a channel, and share it with your audience without opening your wallet. There are extra costs if you want to take the next step with paid video ads, but there are no other extra features YouTube offers that come at a cost. Every user receives the same features.

Since Vimeo doesn’t allow ads while viewing a video, they have to earn their money somewhere else. That’s where Vimeo Pro comes in. While they do offer a free account, the business edition offers more video uploads and extra features specifically for brands for $17/month.

These include:

  • 20GB of video storage each week
  • Unlimited Groups, Albums, and Channels
  • Advanced Statistics (Vimeo’s analytics and reporting service)
  • Email support, guaranteed responses within one hour
  • Brand customizable video player

Can your business start out at the Basic level before committing to a paid account with Vimeo? Unfortunately, no. Vimeo states that “businesses may not use Basic or Plus accounts to host videos. If you want to upload commercial videos, you must use Vimeo PRO.”

They categorize the following as commercial content:

  • Videos that promote or represent a business/for-profit brand
  • Using Vimeo to host videos on behalf of the business, for the use of embedding it on the company website
  • Product demos/tutorials
  • Videos that could be seen as any type of advertising

If cost and budget plays a big part in your decision, this is probably where you draw the line.

Marketing Potential

Two major factors play into the lead generating ability of each of these video platforms: content and advertising options.

The biggest pro of YouTube is that it is the second largest search engine, with over 1 billion users and viewing hours increasing by 50% every year. There’s a good chance your target audience is spending some of their time on this platform! The downside, however, is that with so much content already published, it can be a challenge to get your video to stand out from the crowd.

Vimeo seems to be the exact opposite. They don’t have as many users as YouTube, with only 25 million members. Fortunately for marketers, that means there’s less content to compete with, making it easier to showcase your message to your audience.

However, Vimeo does not allow ads, meaning you can’t use the videos you’ve uploaded to their platform as ads to targeted viewers. This includes pre-roll, post-roll, and overlay ads. You can still use your Vimeo videos as ads in other ways, such as embedding them on your website, or driving traffic directly to these videos with other forms of promotion like social media and email.

As a part of the Google family, YouTube offers the same kind of advertising that Google AdWords provides, so if you’re already using AdWords, it’s incredibly easy to add YouTube advertising to the mix.

Most people know how it works by now: an ad is shown before a video that can be skipped after five seconds. These are known as TrueView in-stream ads and you only pay for the view if the viewer watches the ad (doesn’t skip it) for more than 30 seconds or to completion. You can also have your videos show up in search results and in the sidebar while someone is watching another video.

Other benefits of YouTube advertising include targeting specific audiences by age, location, gender, and interests (just to name a few), and having your ads show up across devices, such as a smartphone or tablet.

Which is best: YouTube or Vimeo?

Answer: the one the works best for you.

YouTube is a great option if you want to target a huge audience at a free or relatively low cost. But that means you’re competing with over a million other advertisers trying to reach those users. It’s pretty easy to use with the Google AdWords integration, so you’ll know exactly how you’re videos are performing.

Vimeo offers quality, HD videos, far superior to the quality you find with some YouTube videos. As a business, you’ll need to pay for an account to host videos, but you can embed those videos on other websites, like your own. Vimeo doesn’t allow direct advertising on its platform, but that means your viewers will have a better user experience with no ad interruptions.

But YouTube and Vimeo aren’t the only options! Here are just a few of the other video hosting platforms available to marketers:

At the end of the day, whichever platform works best for your business and helps you attain your video marketing goals is the one you should choose.

What have your experiences been like with YouTube and/or Vimeo? Would you recommend one over the other?

Looking for Video Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Video Management software solutions.

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About the Author


Caroline Malamut

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Caroline is the Vendor Marketing Manager at Capterra. Her love of marketing began while growing up in Philadelphia and has only grown since attending the University of Pittsburgh. In her free time she enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on her Philly and Pitt sports teams.



As far as the user experience and overall layout is concerned, I think we can achieve the same Vimeo’s benefits through YouTube by using a tool called .

So I think there’s no point to use Vimeo over YouTube. YouTube videos can be embed on business sites with a professional look and unlimited color options for branding [And no YouTube logo at all :)]

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