If you’re a pretty savvy marketer – and we know you are – you’re already wise to the ROI-building benefits of a video-based content strategy.

You’ve done the research, identified the themes and topics that will resonate with your target audience and have made your pitch to the top brass.

Things are going well, but don’t overlook the importance of a suitable video hosting platform. The actual nuts and bolts of uploading a video to your website could make all the difference between a rousing success and a costly failure.

There are a slew of choices out there, from plug-and-play options like YouTube to more customizable third-party platforms – and that’s without even getting into the temptation to throw caution to the wind and just host the darn thing yourself.

How do you comb through these options and choose the right one for your business? What’s the best way to host a video on your site to generate return? Where do you even begin?

All right, just settle down. We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at the contenders and how they stack up:

YouTube

YouTube is the Honda Civic of video platforms – it just works. Videos load with minimal buffering and performance issues, so you don’t have to worry about things like latency and long load times.

If you’re a “no frills” kind of person, you’ll love YouTube’s focus on functionality above customization. On the other hand, if you’re interested in more flexibility with your video platform and a lengthy menu of options for capturing user metrics without getting your hands dirty, you may want to look elsewhere.

Vimeo

Vimeo offers a similar level of performance as YouTube with the opportunity for more advanced features if you’re willing to pony up the dough. The ground-floor model of Vimeo is completely free, but if you want to tap into those extra bells and whistles like custom reports and branded video players, that’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

Having said all that, perhaps Vimeo’s major advantage over YouTube is the fact that it’s 100-percent ad-free. That’s right, when you host videos through Vimeo, your viewers won’t need to sit through a 15-second advertisement before getting to the good stuff.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast.

While Vimeo offers the opportunity to build out player functionality and reporting capabilities through its paid services and low-latency playback with the benefit of zero advertizing, there’s one critical area where it lags behind YouTube: viewership numbers.

To date, YouTube is vastly more popular than Vimeo (it’s hard to compete with YouTube’s 1 billion users). That means you can cast a wider net and improve your chances of catching the eye of your target audience by hosting through YouTube over Vimeo.

Self-hosting

You may take a look at what YouTube, Vimeo and other third-party platforms have to offer and say “nuts to that, I’ll do it myself.” You can finetune the setup any way you like and only pay for the features you need instead of packages like Vimeo’s. And after all, how hard could it be to host your own video content?

Very, as it turns out.

It takes a lot of time, know-how and resources – not to mention specialized hardware – to properly host videos yourself. Providers like YouTube and Vimeo have servers that are specifically designed to host large quantities of video content. Without that infrastructure in place, you’ll continually run into playback issues like excessive buffering.

And then there’s the constant creeping doubt about video player performance: Are people finding your videos? Are the videos loading quickly? Are they loading at all?

These are the kinds of nagging questions that can keep a marketing pro up at night. Simply put, it’s just not worth the effort to self-host your video content.

So, what’s the answer?

Well, it depends (a cop-out, we know, but hear us out).

If your organization has the resources and infrastructure to fully support your own video-hosting platform, the freedom of customization, access to user metrics and complete administrative control could be too enticing to pass up.

Likewise, if you’re willing to shell out the extra money each month to go with Vimeo, the ad-free playback and expanded feature list may be worth your while.

According to our resident expert, Director of Technical Services Deryk King, though, YouTube has the baseline features and functionality most businesses will need to get their video campaigns off the ground. That endorsement does come with a small caveat, though. If possible, employ a video sitemap when using YouTube to ensure your content is associated with your website. That way, all your videos will be attributed to your domain instead of YouTube’s.

Also keep in mind that although YouTube doesn’t provide the reporting capabilities of Vimeo’s premium services packages, you can still pull that data through your API. It’ll just take a little legwork to generate those metrics reports.

There’s also some evidence – albeit, not 100-percent substantiated – to suggest that YouTube videos perform better in Google search results than other platforms. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Google outright gives preferential treatment to YouTube.

At the end of the day, the sheer simplicity of YouTube lets it shine above the other contenders. If you’re looking for a pure plug-and-play solution, YouTube’s just the ticket. It may not have the extensive features of third-party options, but like a Honda Civic, it’ll get you where you need to go.

Jeff Keleher is a writer and editor at Brafton. A man of simple tastes, he enjoys playing guitar, playing video games and playing with his dog - sometimes all at once. He still hasn't gotten over Illinois' loss in the 2005 NCAA National Championship game, and he probably never will.