To Host or not to Host (Your Branded Video)

|Alex Bennett

Videos comprise a growing proportion of content circulated by brands in Outbrain’s network. As you might expect, there is a lot of variation in where brands choose host the videos that they amplify on Outbrain’s platform. While many videos are hosted on owned domains (i.e., the brand’s site or owned domain designated for content marketing), others are hosted on 3rd party video hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo, or Flickr.

We were interested in finding out whether branded videos perform better on owned domains or on 3rd party hosts, namely, YouTube.

To address this question, we drew a sample of 13,525 links to videos that brands paid to distribute on Outbrain’s network. For the purpose of control, this sample was limited to English language videos targeted to viewers on desktop computers.

We found that videos hosted on YouTube generated a 46% higher average click-through rate than videos hosted on owned domains.

Another important variable is the source name that the brand chooses to associate with a YouTube video when it’s distributed throughout Outbrain’s network. In many cases, “YouTube” is listed alone alongside the video’s headline but other times the brand is also specified in the source name (e.g., “Brand X on YouTube”) – the choice is up to the brand.

To dig deeper, we further segmented the YouTube hosted videos by their source name and compared the performance between all 3 groups.


When the brand name was included in the source name of YouTube hosted videos, their CTR was only 22% higher than CTR on brand domain hosted videos and 19% lower than CTR on YouTube hosted videos that used “YouTube” alone as their source name.

Keep in mind that this study is limited to videos that were targeted to viewers on desktop computers. It did not include mobile-targeted videos, for which the optimal host may differ. Additionally, we only observe click-through engagement and do not take into account post-click engagement metrics (e.g., time spent, video completion rate etc.).

Since what’s optimal for click-throughs is not necessarily optimal for subsequent engagement, we could very likely find that video hosting options stack up against one another differently when it comes to post-click engagement.

Stay tuned for a follow-up study that will delve into additional consumption platforms and engagement metrics to paint full picture of how host choice impacts engagement with branded video content.


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Alex Bennett

Alex Bennett

Alex is a Business Intelligence Analyst at Outbrain, where she is responsible for extracting and delivering data-driven insights to content... Read more

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