Marketing through Vimeo: Is it Possible?

Over the course of the last few years, YouTube has emerged as the undisputed king of video sharing.  Millions of clips have been uploaded to the site since its launch in 2005.  YouTube has become a major venue for mainstream artists and would-be Internet celebrities from around the globe to advertise their many “talents” to the masses.  Marketers have begun to use the site quite effectively as well.

YouTube is, in many cases, the first stop for marketers looking to launch viral campaignsRay Ban, Nike, Dove, Ecko, and Burger King are just a few of the brands that have flocked to YouTube to launch big budget viral marketing campaigns.  However, the site can seem crowded, cluttered, and a bit overwhelming. In addition, YouTube is often criticized because of the low quality of the videos submitted; hence, the question beckons, is there an alternative to YouTube?   Ladies and gentlemen, meet Vimeo!

Vimeo was launched in 2004 as a video-centric social network site that has garnered a very artistic, high-brow following.  Artists from around the world who aspire to be serious filmmakers and future Pixar innovators upload videos to the site in droves to the tune of 13,000 clips a day in an attempt to have their work seen, heard, and noticed.

So, how can Vimeo be used as a social media marketing tool?  The uploading guidelines for Vimeo explicitly state that there is “no commercial use” allowed on the site.  It would seem all hope is lost when it comes to using Vimeo as a marketing tool, but not so fast.  There are significant exceptions.

For instance, an independent band that has not been signed to a major record label or an independent filmmaker can post music videos, trailers, and/or films on Vimeo as long as the person uploading the material has contributed “significantly to the creation of” the uploaded content – but what about businesses?  Can they use Vimeo to their advantage?  The answer is yes, but indirectly.

The condition that individuals can upload material as long as they have contributed “significantly to the creation of” content allows for people who have created videos for corporate competitions calling for user-generated content/commercials to upload those videos to Vimeo.  HP Printers took advantage of this when they sponsored one of the open-brief categories of the prestigious D&AD Student Awards competition in London.

HP sponsored the category and called for entrants to “Present an idea which promotes HP Workstations’ ability to bring to life anything the creative mind can conceive.”  The result- brilliant ads the entrants then posted on Vimeo Here is one of the more popular ones:.

Earlier this year, Olympus PEN held a similar competition, “The PEN Story,” on their website where they called for people to send in clips commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the brand. Videos were hosted on the brand’s website while users were also allowed to post their origional works on video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. In the end, two videos from the competition made it on to Vimeo’s “Videos we Like” page. Here is my favorite:

A final video comes from an online competition for MTV Europe where the filmmakers tell viewers to “commit and dedicate yourself to even the most stupid ideas that come to mind.” Here, they build a glass harp and then play it to the tone of “No Limit” by 2unlimited, a song considered by many to be the worst of all time.

So why not just upload directly to YouTube? Why would any marketer be interested in this form of indirect exposure?

A growing number of marketers feel that even though Vimeo has a smaller audience than YouTube, the video-sharing site allows a company to have a certain amount of control over its image because of a few very important factors:

  • Uploaded videos are placed in user’s accounts.
  • When watching a Vimeo video you are accessing the individual’s account.
  • Therefore, only other videos created by the user are displayed in the side tool bar, not competing clips (that could be ads) for other brands and other user-generated promotions.
  • Once the clip ends, the screen, unlike YouTube videos, does not then promote other similar clips.

One advocate for Vimeo puts it like this:

“I chose Vimeo for a different reason, however. At the end of every YouTube video viewing, the viewer is prompted to watch other related YouTube videos. And that makes sense when you’ve come to YouTube’s site and watched a video you like. But I have also embedded the videos on my site, and I am not interested in hawking other people’s videos on my own Web site (through the embedded YouTube video).”

Additionally, many Vimeo clips find their way on to other video-sharing sites such as YouTube,, and What’s also attractive about Vimeo is the fact that the site has not been overrun by countless videos depicting random people doing random things in random places at random times. The less clutter, the more likely the clip (especially if it is really interesting and innovative) will make it on to Vimeo’s exclusive and highly trafficked “Videos We Like” list.

Recently, Vimeo partnered with Honda to launch its first full-page integration marketing campaign to promote their latest hybrid models (remember, Vimeo permits this under certain circumstances). The result was a Vimeo production like no other (be sure to go to actual Vimeo account for the full experience).

Though Vimeo has not emerged as a the viral marketing behemoth that YouTube has, it is certainly a social media marketing tool that needs to be considered, notice, explored, and ultimately utilized.

Ignite Social Media