YouTube, HTML5, or both?

The advantages and disadvantages of embedded YouTube videos

We are often asked if it's a good idea to embed YouTube video's onto websites. So we thought it worth publishing our views of the pros and cons of this approach.

YouTube Advantages

  1. YouTube is 2nd only to Google as a search engine. Just having your content on YouTube increases your chances of being found if somebody is doing a search. You have the chance to drive traffic to your website if you videos are posted on YouTube.
  2. Free CDN. YouTube is effectively a Content Distribution Network, so you can generally expect that your video will be reasonably efficiently delivered across the globe. This may be a large advantage if your website is on a low-cost virtual server
  3. Multiple encoding. YouTube will automatically encode your video at various resolutions. So if you upload a HD video, then YouTube will encode 240p, 360p, 480p, 720p and HD versions
  4. Popular codecs – HD videos are encoded in both H.264 and WebM format as required for HTML5
  5. Easy embedding of the video in your website. YouTube has a clean and simple API that allows you to easily embbed the video on your website

YouTube Disadvantages

  1. Limited Thumbnail choice. You can overlay your YouTube video on your website with nicer thumbnails, but this is technically against the YouTube terms and conditions.
  2. Blocking. After Facebook, YouTube is the 2nd most blocked domain inside corporations. This means that your customers, especially b2b customers, may not be able to view your video
  3. Page load time. Webpages with YouTube videos will typically load slower than those with same domain HTML5 videos. Ironically, this also means that your webpage will get a lower rating on Google's own PageSpeed test and will have slightly lowered search ranking
  4. Visitor leaking. Visitors to your website may get distracted and find themselves on the YouTube site rather than yours.


YouTube has a lot of nice built in features, and now that it also supports the HTML5 adaptive bit rate streaming, it will stream just as efficiently as a native HTML5 video. As long as you only have one or two YouTube videos on each of your webpages, the page load times should still be reasonable.

If you want to remove the disadvantages of using video then HTML5 video is the best solution. This is especially true if you want have a clean video presentation without the YouTube branding, or you want to add your own branding. If your budget allows, the optimal solution is to support HTML5 videos directly on your website and also manage a YouTube channel with the same videos. And finally, if you have a bigger budget you should also have your HTML5 videos distributed by a CDN.

We hope this overview summary helps you understand your options. Feel free to contact us for further information, or add a comment below.