Global Video Sharing Platforms: YouTube, Youku, Tudou, RuTube and Nico Nico what?

Since April 23 when YouTube´s 1st video was uploaded, the video sharing site has seen incredible growth, and passed some huge milestones- the most recent of which has been the 3 billion daily views it achieves, up from 2 billion in May last year. The idea for the site, conceived on the back of the frustration of three former Paypal employees at a lack of appropriate online video sharing platforms, led to the creation of one of the most popular global sites, explored and capitalize on by both consumers and marketers alike.

YouTube´s appeal for viewers cannot be denied.
• The freedom to watch whatever we want at whatever time we want holds great appeal and has greatly contributed to decreasing levels of Television viewing by online users.
• As the quality of videos has improved, we have become more satisfied with YouTube´s service and reduced time spent searching for alternative platforms.
• YouTube caters for our short attention spans (or hectic lifestyle if you will), with the short length of allowed videos uploaded.
• Finally, it has undeniable value as a mechanism for sharing online content in an increasingly social world.

Paralleled by this viewer appeal is the value it offers to companies who are able to take advantage of its huge user base to create effective campaigns and general educate consumers. YouTube offers many opportunities for the online marketer:
• Provides access to a free channel to diffuse their brand/company/product/service marketing message.
• Allows marketers to improve their Search Engine Marketing strategies by linking videos to their websites and tagging keywords, thus improving rankings.
• Captures higher advertisement viewing rates compared to television (consumers are more tolerant to the short online advertisements compared to long blocks on television).
• Promotes the development of creative, appealing and multidimensional marketing campaigns.
• Finally, and vitally, marketers are able to measure viewer engagement, loyalty, sentiment and reach with marketing campaigns through YouTube:

Metrics for online Video viewing
Pauses
Sliding backwards and re-watching sections
Skipping over sections
Replay
Video has ended
Video closed before ending
Video played: percentage played
Video played: seconds played
Number of unique watchers
Number of returning watchers
Number of views
Number of favourites
Number of times link is shared
Ratings (out of 5)
Comments
How number of views/comments/favourites changes over time

Although the international YouTube user base is enormous, it faces both global competitors (such as Netflix, Facebook, Hulu, Vevo and Megavideo) as well as regional competitors. Although many of the features of these video sharing platforms are similar, some of the regional leaders will be cited and fundamental functional differences explored.

Rutube.ru although ranking 71 in the Alexa ranking for Russia compared to YouTube´s ranking of 6th, still captures roughly 9 million daily views or 2.3 million unique visitors. Therefore, its value as a marketing platform should not be ignored.

Again, in Japan the local Video sharing program comes in second to YouTube but still presents strong competition. Nico Nico Douga, or ´Smile videos,´ is similar to those of YouTube in terms of functionality, although suffers with a limited server capacity. One major difference exists between the two platforms, however. This is the way in which viewer comments are presented. Compared to YouTube where viewer comments are posted below the video, Nico Nico Douga comments are overlaid onto the video. Although some users, especially those accustomed to the conventional comment format, may find the overlay of text to be intrusive or annoying it gives users a chance to see other reactions in real time, making the video viewing experience much more social. Compared to YouTube- where viewers only see 2 comments above the fold and can scroll to see a total of 10 before having to click through to the next page, this comment format may contribute to a greater feeling of shared experience.

The video below demonstrates the comment sharing format on the hideously annoying, but somehow-viral video “Nyan Cat”.

In China, as with many other popular international sites, such as Facebook, YouTube is banned by the government. This has left room for Youku and Tudou video sharing websites to prosper. Neither restricts size limit of videos uploaded, so the websites contain a mix of short user-generated videos as well as commercial videos. Both are competing in a market rife with piracy and copyright infringement and both have been forced to create strategies to combat this. Youku, for example, in light of their recently formed relationship with Warner Bros. has created a policy to both capitalize on their relationship with the commercial video provider and attempt to eradicate piracy. This policy is of charging viewers between 46 and 77 cents to view high quality feature length films. This equilibrium price sits between the free pirated online movies, and the roughly $1.50 Chinese can pay for pirated DVDs.

Therefore, international online marketing policies which intend to employ the highly valuable, and highly measurable, channel of video should look beyond YouTube. Whilst its value is undeniable, failing to consider the value of important regional video sharing platforms would mean missing valuable marketing opportunities.

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