Vimeo Vs. YouTube – Which is right for your online videos?

When it comes to online videos there are two video hosting websites that jump to the forefront: Vimeo and YouTube. But which of these sites is the best to showcase your work?

The answer depends on many factors: Is view count your number one priority? Do you get tired of watching ads? Would you rather not sift through junk to find what you want? There are a number of questions to answer to before you decide which platform best fits your needs.

YouTube is widely regarded as the king of online video with over 800 million unique visitors each month. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 4 billion hours of video are watched every month. And perhaps even more unbelievable, YouTube has become the world’s second largest search engine on the Internet.

Does that mean Vimeo cannot compete? Not necessarily. There are certainly pros and cons to each platform and a lot of factors that go into deciding which is the best way to display your next video masterpiece.



With over 800 million unique visitors each month, the possibility of your video being seen increases greatly. If getting your video seen by as many people possible is the highest priority, this number is hard to ignore. In addition, YouTube is owned by Google, which certainly won’t hurt your video’s chances of showing up in search results.

YouTube is also 100% free to use, fully customizable and allows for unlimited uploads. Users can create their own channels with customizable backgrounds, playlists and more.

When it comes to businesses using YouTube, advertising can be a huge advantage, including display ads, in-video ads and promoted videos. This means if you want your video to be seen, you can pay to make it happen.


Over 72 hours of video being uploaded each minute, that also means there is a lot of (for lack of a better word) crap being uploaded. For every beautiful “Finding Oregon” timelapse video that is uploaded, 10 “cute” cat home videos are being added to the YouTube archives. This can make filtering through the fluff a difficult task at times.

The overall aesthetic of YouTube can feel cluttered with video suggestions and advertisements throughout. Though some may perceive advertising as a pro, the average user will likely see it as a con. Advertising now appears on all videos as a small distracting banner or as a 15 to 30 second clip in front of some of the more popular videos.

Another limitation of YouTube is only allowing for 15-minute video uploads for most users. In addition, YouTube analytics leave much to be desired as they only focus on the basic data.



Vimeo has a much cleaner and streamlined aesthetic to it appearance. Uploading videos to your page feels like adding to your online portfolio, everything is organized and easily searchable. In addition the quality of the video is higher and there is no time length limit on the videos being uploaded.

Vimeo fits into a much more niche audience, centered on good filmmaking and inspiring videos. Vimeo filters out the commercial videos, gaming videos and all non-user generated content. The community tends to be a more professional crowd, made up of filmmakers and film enthusiasts. The community is much more engaged with constructive feedback, helping filmmakers form relationships with other users.

An added bonus, Vimeo allows users to upload their own thumbnail image to the video and choose the most enticing image to represent their video. With a Pro account Vimeo allows users to embed their logo or image directly on the video player, which is great for branding.


Though Vimeo’s popularity continues to grow, currently around 60 million unique visitors a month, its audience doesn’t come close to YouTube’s. Plain and simple, in most cases your video is not going to get as many views and for some this is reason enough to go with YouTube.

Another drawback is that Vimeo only allows for one HD video upload per week on the free account as well as slow upload times for users who have not paid to upgrade to Plus or Pro accounts.

Which is right for you?

Above are examples of the same video on YouTube and Vimeo. As you can see on YouTube there is a banner ad on the video and another large ad to the side as well as a list of video recommendations. On Vimeo, the video is the sole focus; no ads, no recommendations, just a clean layout featuring more advanced statistics.

Neither Vimeo nor YouTube is the clear winner of this debate. Both have their advantages and drawbacks.

YouTube is like New York, it is sensory overload, filled with advertisements and you have to filter through the junk to get to the good stuff. Your video might get lost in the scuffle of the big city or it might find itself in the bright lights of Times Square.

Vimeo is like Portland, the smaller city with a big town feel, the streets aren’t as cluttered and it’s much easier to find what you are looking for. Your video isn’t as likely to make it to the bright lights of the big city, but you’ll reach an audience of people who appreciate the time and effort you put into making your masterpiece.

So which will it be? Will your videos make it in New York or will they feel more at home in Portland?


Submit a Comment
  • K.ravikumar

    December 11, 2012 3:27 pm

    Very fast in vimeo app

  • Quicksand Jesus

    February 13, 2013 12:57 pm

    IMO Vimeo has much lower quality, I don’t even see where you can do 2160p or 3d.

  • Jonathan Seyfert

    February 19, 2013 9:55 am

    I want to mention, you can shut off adds on YouTube on your own channel, there is a checkbox to disable them. It doesn’t shut off the add to the right of the video, but any adds on the video itself, like the pop-up banner ad itself.

  • Ms Jheri

    February 28, 2013 8:54 am

    Great article !!!

    Drumroll please

    I choose….


  • Mike Flaherty

    March 11, 2013 10:23 pm

    Ian –
    My wifes application is more about allowing her customers to view videos of dance classes showcasing their children ages 10-18.
    We are not interested in using Vimeo or YouTube to promote, expose, market or sell our contents or products/services. Videos uploaded would ALL be private and available to members only using a secure environment where members only could view specific videos.

    Under above conditions what platform would you recommend to store and make avialble to customers our private videos?

    Thank you, Mike

  • Ian

    March 12, 2013 10:03 pm

    Hello Mike, both platforms offer private video options. With YouTube you are able to upload a video and set it as “unlisted,” which only allows users with the link to video to view it. The video would not show up in standard YouTube searches. Vimeo offers as password protected option that allows you to set passwords to view your videos. Both options have their merits: YouTube’s option might be a little easier to use, Vimeo’s a bit more secure. I hope this answers your question. Please let us know if you have further questions, thanks!

  • Matt Sezer

    March 13, 2013 2:41 pm

    Maybe this article is old, but I can upload videos of any length and size to Youtube for free. I find it a bit absurd that even if you pay money for Vimeo, they still limit how much you can upload and how many people can view your embedded videos.

  • Christian Solorzano

    March 19, 2013 7:17 pm

    I used to prefer YouTube but now prefer Vimeo. You can find a lot of inspiration on Vimeo and YouTube is good for reference and music.

  • Rich

    May 1, 2013 4:41 pm

    Very helpful article Ian – thanks! For entertainment I generally prefer Vimeo as a lot of Vimeo regulars are very creative and make really beautiful videos. For how-to and music you can’t beat Youtube.

  • Ian

    May 3, 2013 5:04 pm

    Thanks for reading Rich! I agree with you on both accounts, each platform has it’s benefits.

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  • Clash of Clans Hack

    July 8, 2013 3:38 pm

    Hola! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  • Ian

    July 8, 2013 3:57 pm

    Thanks, we’re glad you enjoy reading!

  • raiderz free key

    July 30, 2013 12:40 am

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  • Ian

    July 30, 2013 3:22 pm

    Thanks for reading!

  • Jackson

    June 1, 2015 1:14 pm

    Vimeo does NOT have unlisted option in privacy settings… TOTAL FAIL!!!

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