“Online video” is pretty much synonymous with “YouTube” these days. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering how far YouTube has come. However, there are times, more and more often, when I wonder if YouTube has outstayed its welcome. Maybe you’ve thought the same recently.
Don’t get me wrong: YouTube is great. There are many high-quality channels that are educational, insightful, and entertaining. I’d be lost without YouTube. But it’s also home to a lot of garbage, and a lot of the videos start to feel quite “samey” after a while.
1. A Quality User Experience
Vimeo has one of the smoothest video players I’ve ever used. It’s fast and responsive. You can clearly see how much of the video has buffered, and even if you seek to an unbuffered spot, playback continues flawlessly. The player interface is also minimal and uncluttered.
Most impressive is the actual quality of the videos. Whereas sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, and Metacafe tend to serve quantity over quality, Vimeo intentionally focuses on quality over everything else. Using better encoding methods and higher bitrates, Vimeo videos are the smoothest and crispest around.
In other words, if you compare a 720p video on Vimeo with a 720p video on another site, you’ll likely notice that Vimeo’s is objectively better.
2. Originality and Creativity
Vimeo is the farthest thing from a “video dump.” If you take a site like LiveLeak and imagine the exact opposite of it, you’d probably come up with something close to Vimeo. It isn’t just about hosting videos. It’s about hosting original videos.
No other video site has a better signal-to-noise ratio. A “signal” is any bit of interesting content and “noise” is all of the uninteresting content that drowns out the signal and makes it harder to find. YouTube probably has 1,000 crappy videos for every watchable one. On Vimeo, every third video has its merits.
Of course, you do have to take into account that Vimeo videos all tend to be of a certain type. Since the community is mostly comprised of filmmakers, you’ll see a lot of animations, music videos, and artsy shorts. But how-to instructionals are growing popular too. In the end, it’s all about quality.
3. Video Discovery
Finding new content to watch on YouTube can be pretty tough. When over 300 hours of footage are uploaded every minute, the word “new” loses its meaning. And though YouTube has a recommendation engine, its results tend to be spotty at best (and aggressively annoying at worst).
Vimeo offers more ways to find content you might like. All videos belong to at least one of 16 browsable Categories, but can also belong to any number of Groups — user-created “topics” that make it easier to find interest-specific videos and build a sense of community (more on this in Reason 7 below).
4. Curated Videos and Highlights
In addition to Categories and Groups, Vimeo provides two ways for you to browse the best of the best: Staff Picks and Trending.
Staff Picks are hand-picked videos by Vimeo staffers. These are videos they’ve watched and enjoyed and marked as highly watchable. The Staff Picks page has several sections: Recently Added, Premieres (i.e. recently uploaded videos), Best of the Month, and Best of the Year.
Trending videos are ones with a lot of recent plays. It’s all automated and regularly updated, so you’ll find new videos to watch every day. Trending videos are shown on the front page of Vimeo. These Categories have their own trending sections: Music Videos, Comedy, Action, Sports, Drama, and Documentaries.
5. No Advertisements
You hate advertisements, don’t you? Not only do they waste your life — 30-second clips here and there really add up over time — but they can also affect the creative integrity. When everything boils down to page views, we end up with clickbait and quick-to-produce content.
Vimeo doesn’t have any advertisements at all. I like this because it relieves the viewer of any ad-related moral dilemmas. No more worrying about whether your ad-blocker will harm creators (it will). You can just watch in peace — both peace of mind and peace of no ads.
6. Non-Exploitative Monetization
Free content is awesome, but even artists and producers need to put food on the table. If Vimeo didn’t offer any way for creators to make money, they’d all flock to sites where they could. But how to do that without ads?
You pay Vimeo creators directly. With the Vimeo On Demand program, creators can sell access to their videos in three ways: per-video rentals, per-video sales, and channel subscriptions. The best part? Vimeo creators get 90 percent of the revenue — a level of revenue split unheard of elsewhere.
This is one of the best reasons to host your videos on Vimeo if your content has a creative or instructional spin. Not only will you have more creative control (no need to appease potential advertisers), you might even make more money.
7. A Constructive Community
One thing that sets Vimeo apart is its atmosphere of community. Whereas other video sites tend to have isolated channel communities that rarely interact with each other, Vimeo itself is the community.
I’ve found that Vimeo users are often more mature and constructive. Comments are more positive than negative. There isn’t as much trolling. You rarely get the sense that creators sit above their audiences. Everyone is in it together, as if everyone is sharing a common goal.
What Do You Think of Vimeo?
Note that Vimeo isn’t for everybody. If you want cat clips, vlogs, musical covers, “social experiments,” pirated songs, etc. then YouTube is still the right destination (and will probably be so forever). Vimeo is certainly different.
All we’re suggesting is that you give it a serious try if you haven’t already. You might find that Vimeo is more to your tastes than you think.
Now, please share your thoughts on Vimeo! Is it too niche? Too unconventional? Perhaps even too pretentious? Let us know with a comment below!
Image Credit: Dusit via Shutterstock.com