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The difference between YouTube and a DAM system

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What’s the difference between YouTube and a digital asset management (DAM) system (in our case, the Widen Collective®), and how should you utilize each?

The Collective is a video management system with publishing capabilities, and YouTube is a search engine where all the results are video. You shouldn’t think of them as one OR the other. I suggest you use both.

In this article, we’ll be diving into the YouTube part of the equation. To learn more about DAM, visit Widen's What is digital asset management (DAM)? page.

YouTube, metadata and embeds

YouTube is the second biggest search engine next to Google itself. People go there to search for how-to videos, reviews, and to see your products and services in action. With good metadata implemented on YouTube, it’s very easy for someone to find you and find your content, both by typing in search terms, or by your content becoming “suggested content” at the end of your competitors’ videos.

The bad news is it’s also easy for viewers to stray from your content. For many reasons, which I’ll get into shortly, my suggestion is to use YouTube to drive inbound traffic TO your website, and to NOT use YouTube’s embeds on your website, or you invite in some negatives.

Marketing teams spend a lot of time and resources perfecting their sales funnel and content traffic flow on their website. The link back to on a YouTube embed never really goes away, and that’s by design. It’s a “way out” and your viewer can leave the confines of your website (or blog) where you can analyze and control their movement.

A direct comparison between YouTube embeds and the Widen Collective

Awhile back something stood out to me when I saw YouTube embeds on a well-known brand’s site. I wondered what effect YouTube embeds had on the perception of credibility by viewers of an organization’s website. If you take two identical web pages, one with a YouTube embed, and the other a non-YouTube embed, which one would viewers feel lends more credibility to the organization? I started a research project, and asked over 400 respondents a very simple question: “Which website makes the organization look more credible?”

YouTube Partner Program Metadata & Optimization

70% of the respondents stated that the non-YouTube embed made the organization seem more credible. There was also an open-ended field for them to explain their answer. Looking at those responses, I rated whether their reason was a positive or a negative response to either the plain video player, or the YouTube player. There were next to no negative effects from the plain video embed (like the one in the Collective). The only negative comments were for YouTube. 70% is a pretty powerful indicator that points towards not using YouTube embeds on your website.

Using YouTube embeds on your site is the only negative to using YouTube, in my opinion. The positives are amazing. It’s a search engine. All the effort that your marketing team puts into Google, AdWords, and SEO can also be applied to YouTube. I went to a great conference a year ago and brought back a ton of great tips for optimizing a YouTube page, and using it to drive traffic to our dot com, where, in this case, we’re using embeds from the Collective.

YouTube optimization tips

Here are three of the most impactful YouTube optimization tips I learned from the conference that I’d like to share with you:

  1. Metadata and YouTube work very well together.
  2. The branding of your channel landing page and thumbnails is very important.
  3. Annotations/links drive traffic to your dot com.

YouTube metadata

If you’re a Widen Collective user, you probably already know the importance of metadata in general. It’s no different on YouTube. Unfortunately, it is all too common to quickly upload a video to YouTube and skimp out on the metadata.

It’s worth putting in the time to add accurate metadata. YouTube is a search engine, and people go there looking for information, examples, reviews, etc. They won’t find your video if your metadata isn’t optimized to what they type in their search. Think about what that target audience might type in the search to find your content, and then make sure that it’s in your YouTube metadata!

Most viewers don’t read the metadata, so its main purpose is for search. And, there’s no limit on the amount of text you can place in the metadata fields. A great tip I learned was that if you do a blog post for your video, you can simply copy and paste the entire text into the description field on YouTube. Search engines have a hard time pulling meaning and context out of video, so the more metadata you give them, and the better they are at finding it, the bigger the advantage you’ll have over your competitors. Make sure you fill out a beefy description of your entire channel too. Same principles apply.

Branding your channel landing page and thumbnails

YouTube Partner Program Metadata & Optimization

This tip, as well as tip #3, requires you to be a YouTube partner. I highly recommend you do this. It unlocks a number of advanced features but doesn’t require you to actually allow ads on your videos.

Here’s a link on how to do this, so I’ll skip that part. Two of the important features it unlocks are the ability to upload your own thumbnail instead of picking from the three random ones they give you … and it unlocks the ability to place links to your website in the video … to ease in driving traffic to your dot com.

The custom thumbnail option is a powerful branding tool because whenever our videos show up in suggested content, they have a consistent look and feel. Viewers will be able to learn and recognize our content vs. others with a quick glance, and know that it’s from a trusted source.

In addition, the branding of your YouTube landing page helps your organization look more professional. From a look and feel standpoint, I have optimized our homepage with playlists and alternated their layout to give it visual appeal, or as much as YouTube allows you to anyway.

YouTube annotations and links

Last, but not least are annotations, which are available when you become a YouTube partner. If you’re not signed on as a YouTube partner, you can still put annotations on your videos, but they are limited to links to other YouTube videos, or additions like a subscribe button. While those are nice, I want to be able to link to our dot com and get viewers off YouTube and into the conversion funnel on our site.

Becoming a YouTube partner unlocks what’s called an associated website. You can place a clickable link anywhere in a video, and have it link to any URL with your base domain. Our associated domain is I can place a link to any URL as long as is in the base. If I want to send someone to our Facebook page, I can’t place a link to, but I can place a link to, and have our web developer set up a redirect. This is an amazingly powerful tool to drive traffic.


The results were immediate. In the four months after I made the changes to Widen’s YouTube channel, views more than doubled, amount of minutes watched doubled, and most importantly we started driving traffic from YouTube to our dot com ... which is where we want more eyes.

If you are interested in learning more about the video management capabilities of the Widen Collective, talk to a Widen advisor today.

Topics: Marketing

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