Video site Vimeo launches a new ad campaign and it pokes a little fun at YouTube

A still from Vimeo's ad campaign, launched in March 2019

Video website Vimeo is spending upwards of $10 million on its largest ad campaign so far, in line with a revamped strategy focusing on video creators — rather than reaching the masses online.

Its "Vimeo Can Help" campaign emphasizes how it can help video creators — whether they are large companies such as Walmart or a local coffee shop or yoga studio. The campaign is a tongue-in-cheek look at what it can help with, over what it can't. A billboard ad in a San Francisco parking lot states: "Making a video? Vimeo can help. Paying $37 for parking? Vimeo cannot help," for example.

But it also has a little dig at ad-funded YouTube. Vimeo will run pre-roll ads on YouTube itself, stating: "This is an ad before your video. Vimeo doesn't have these," to promote its ad-free player. Ads for other features, such as its "Publish to Social" function, where video creators can live stream across all their social platforms, are also part of the campaign.

Vimeo makes money by charging video-makers up to $50 a month.

Vimeo's Chief Marketing Officer Harris Beber said the platform doesn't see YouTube as a rival. "YouTube has an enormously large community that has a huge audience and they monetize that audience through ad revenue, whereas Vimeo has also a very large audience, but we're focused on the creators behind the content and less about the content itself," he told CNBC by phone.

A poster ad for Vimeo's new marketing campaign, launched in March 2019

"By next year, internet traffic, 80 percent of it is going to be video-based. So … it's only growing and accelerating and it's a huge addressable market that we feel we have earned the right to take a large portion of," Beber said. Cisco estimates that by 2022, 82 percent of all internet traffic (the flow of data across the internet) will be made up of video.

Beber joined Vimeo shortly after Chief Executive Anjali Sud was promoted from senior vice president in 2017, and around that time the business shifted its focus to helping people create content.

"We made a conscious decision as a business that in a world where there are so many 'walled gardens' and platforms that are focused on eyeballs and monetization and views, we saw a unique differentiation for Vimeo to be a creator-friendly or a creator-first first place," he added.

For the first time, Vimeo parent company IAC split out revenues for the video company in February, saying that they went up 28 percent during the fourth quarter. In 2018, Vimeo made $160 million in revenue, a growth of 54 percent year-on-year, according to Beber. By comparison, Google-owned YouTube does not break out YouTube's revenues, but analysts estimated that it generated $12.8 billion in sales in 2017. YouTube does not charge video producers for uploading their content, which is part of the reason that it has grown so large.

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But Beber admits that Vimeo needs to do more work to explain to people what it could do. "We have the benefit but also the challenge of having this 15-year-old brand that has tremendous loyalty and brand equity, but not all for the areas that we want to be known for. So, this campaign is (about) how do we create a really clean simple message that delivers … the message that Vimeo can help you with your videos."

Vimeo will spend $10 million to $15 million on the campaign this year, and will run ads on TV, in cinemas and on billboards, with a focus on creative hotspots such as New York and San Francisco. The campaign was made by New York creative agency Fig and directed by Alex Prager, the creator behind the 2011 New York Times video project "Touch of Evil."