Watermarking builds brand awareness and protects private content. Creators and companies commonly add static logo watermarks to photos, videos, and PDFs.
But if someone steals your content, “brand awareness” isn’t a worthy consolation prize.
What if you could proactively protect your content from being stolen? Better still, what if you could determine who stole your content thanks to its video watermark?
Enter dynamic watermarking. An alternative video watermarking solution, dynamic watermarks change based on the viewer, generally displaying personal information as a theft deterrent while moving intermittently around the screen. The regular movement of the watermark makes it nearly impossible to remove.
No matter what solution is ideal for your content, this guide on video watermarking will help. Discover how to watermark videos and why it’s important, plus check out examples to decide which type of watermark is best for your business.
What is a Watermark for Video & What Does It Mean?
Companies and creators add watermarks to online intellectual property — such as videos, photos, and documents like PDFs — that need to be protected.
Generally speaking, a video watermark is either a:
- Static brand logo indicating the content owner, or
- Dynamic semi-transparent text identifying the viewer’s email and IP address
Static watermarks indicate ownership and establish brand authority. Dynamic watermarks help prevent content from being stolen and misappropriated.
For these reasons, video watermarks act as a security measure. You can add watermarks to videos during editing, post-production, or after uploading your asset to a video hosting platform.
We’ll discuss the use cases for each type of video watermark in more detail later.
Do Watermarks Indicate Copyright?
Watermarking a video does not copyright the content. But it doesn’t need to! You gain copyright in a creative work when it is written or recorded. Register creative works through the U.S. Copyright Office if you might need to defend your property in court. The most proactive way to protect your video assets is to prevent the content from being stolen in the first place.
What is the Purpose of a Video Watermark?
Brand awareness and theft prevention are the main reasons to add a watermark to your videos. The level of security a watermark provides depends on the type of watermark used.
Static watermarks (i.e., brand logos) are less secure than dynamic watermarks, which intermittently display viewer information on-screen. However, businesses and creators need different levels of protection. Let’s consider the two major use cases for video watermarks.
Watermarking for Brand Awareness & Content Reach
The most basic watermark is a static image in the form of a brand logo or creator name. Static watermarks are the same for every viewer. This watermark ensures your business receives credit, helping to build topic authority and brand awareness when your content is shared.
Static Logo Watermark
Static watermarks are generally placed in the bottom left or right corner of the video. However, this placement makes static watermarks fairly easy to remove or crop out if a thief wants to pass the content off as their own. New AI tools to remove watermarks only make this easier.
One solution to discourage unauthorized use is covering the center or entire video with a semi-transparent watermark. Stock image and video libraries commonly use this method.
Edge-to-Edge Static Logo Watermark
However, this doesn’t prevent AI from removing the watermark. Plus, videos covered with a semi-transparent watermark are difficult or unpleasant to watch.
Therefore, static watermarks are useful for brand awareness and content reach, as most people won’t remove a watermark before sharing your content. However, static watermarks aren’t sufficient for protecting intellectual property.
Watermarking for Copyright and Intellectual Property Protection
The risks associated with misappropriated intellectual property, proprietary information, and corporate data can affect a business’s bottom line. Leaked internal videos, for example, risk exposing private information or unrevealed products.
Three weeks before the 2014 U.S. theater premiere, an unauthorized copy of The Expendables 3 began circulating online via piracy websites.
The high-quality copy was downloaded 189,000 times within 24 hours, garnering over 2 million views before the official release. It’s suspected that hackers stole the film from a cloud-based system before uploading it to the internet.
The movie “tanked” at the box office when it opened in theaters, bringing in $12 million less than The Expendables 2, which pulled in $28 million. Lionsgate Films sued websites to get the film taken down. However, the company experienced significant financial impact, losing millions of dollars on the film and legal fees.
Likewise, e-learning course creators must protect their intellectual property from being screencast and shared without permission. To this end, dynamic watermarking is a secure solution to prevent viewers from leaking your content or passing it off as their own.
Dynamic Watermark on SproutVideo
A dynamic watermark displays different content based on predefined criteria about the viewer; it moves intermittently around the screen to prevent unauthorized use.
Dynamic watermarks on the SproutVideo platform display the viewer’s personal information (email address, IP address, and session ID) on the screen. Viewers are dissuaded from stealing video content because it would require them to publicly share their personal information as well.
Additionally, dynamic watermarking creates a trail of breadcrumbs, allowing you to identify the culprit and prevent future access.
Across options, dynamic watermarks strike a balance to provide optimal security while maintaining a high-quality viewer experience. You can even customize dynamic watermarks with SproutVideo: choose a more transparent watermark, prevent it from sticking to the center of the screen, adjust the intermittent pattern, and more.
When Should I Add a Watermark to My Videos?
Consider the security you need across internal and external channels when determining what type of watermark to add to your videos. For each channel below, consider the risks of video asset distribution without your permission.
- Social Media: sometimes necessary. Some platforms (Instagram and TikTok) automatically add a watermark to videos. Therefore, adding your own is unnecessary. An exception is long-form YouTube videos, where it is standard to include a small watermark in the lower corner.
- Marketing Website: unnecessary. Marketing and product-focused videos generally don’t need a watermark. Often, the company is directly mentioned in the video, meaning brand recognition is built-in. These videos build awareness even if stolen and shared.
- Educational Content: sometimes necessary. Educational videos are a great way for brands to provide value to relevant audiences. As public-facing videos, a static watermark is sufficient for building brand awareness and topic authority. However, private content, such as login-protected videos, gain added protection with dynamic watermarks.
- Paywalled Videos: always necessary. Dynamic watermarks are the most secure way to protect paywalled video guides, e-learning courses, and other privately available content. Dynamic watermarks discourage screencasting theft by displaying the viewer’s personal information. Additionally, it creates a breadcrumb trail, allowing you to block an individual viewer’s access if necessary.
- Internal Corporate Communications: always necessary. Highly sensitive and confidential quarterly data reports, pre-released product demonstrations, and company meetings represent the internal communications that require safeguarding. Internal communications are vulnerable to internal leaks, just as paywalled content is vulnerable to external ones. For the same reasons, dynamic watermarking is ideal for securing this private information.
- Film, Television, and Advertisement Screening: always necessary. Confidential prelease information is shared with popular media outlets, journalists, and content creators before debuting a new product, commercial, or television show. Dynamic watermarking ensures external collaboration and screenings are private and secure.
3 Ways to Add Watermarks to Videos
Add static watermarks to videos during editing or with a third-party tool. Adding dynamic watermarks requires a video hosting service because the watermark must be encoded in real-time to display the viewer’s information.
1. Dynamic Watermarking with SproutVideo
However, dynamic watermarks require real-time encoding and processing to display the viewer’s information as a watermark. For this reason, viewer information must be captured or applied in one of the following ways to enable dynamic watermarking:
- Login Protection: Perfect for securing one-off videos and hosted video websites
- Lead Capture: Ideal for gating promotional marketing and educational assets
- Embed Code Parameters: Necessary for membership websites and advanced viewer tracking
The method of implementation you choose will depend on how you share your videos and when you need dynamic watermarking to appear, as outlined by the use cases listed above.
Lead capture is the least secure of these options because users can enter false information, meaning the dynamic watermark would display the false information entered.
Dynamic Watermarking for a Membership Website (Example)
Miranda runs a membership website. Customers receive access to this website after buying something from her store and log in with their email address and password to view videos.
Miranda wants to enable dynamic watermarking for all videos on this membership site, but she doesn’t want her customers to have to enter another form to display the watermark.
In this situation, Miranda can add her customers’ email addresses and names to the embed code via embed code parameters. But Miranda has over 200 members. Therefore, she uses shortcodes provided by her membership website.
She adds these shortcodes to her video embed codes in place of the embed code parameters. These shortcodes connect her membership platform with her video host, allowing it to display the viewer’s information in the dynamic watermark.
The result is a membership website wherein Miranda’s customers can seamlessly log in to watch her private videos, with a customized dynamic watermark for protection.
Note: For added security, consider using signed embed codes to prevent embed code tampering and reuse.
That’s it! Once you’ve enabled one of these three methods for capturing or applying viewer information, enabling Dynamic Watermark is a simple click of the toggle button.
Read More: How to Enable Dynamic Watermarking
2. Static Watermark in Post-Production
Ensure your static watermark cannot be removed by adding it in post-production while editing. The watermark will become part of the video file when you export your video. Keep in mind that cropping a video or using AI tools can remove a static watermark.
Here are the general steps:
- Create your static watermark image with a transparent background (PNG).
- Import the image into your video editor.
- Add the image to your video timeline, then adjust the logo’s size, placement, and opacity.
- When your video is complete, export and share!
This method is the easiest way to add a static watermark to your videos if you created the video or are familiar with editing software. However, you may prefer a watermarking tool for existing videos. We’ll cover these next.
3. Static Watermark with Third-Party Application
Third-party applications allow you to add a watermark to existing videos. However, the video must be uploaded to the third-party platform to add the watermark.
Many applications allow you to add a watermark for free but restrict the upload size, video resolution, and overlay the tool’s branded watermark. Compare the best apps for watermarking videos based on each platform’s free plan.
- Descript: Viable free option if you need to add a static watermark to a single video.
- Canva: Free tool for adding watermarks to images and documents, but not ideal for larger videos due to the limited upload size (1GB).
- Kapwing: You can get started without creating an account; however, the free plan limits video quality, size, and length.
Note: Some video hosts can add a watermark to the video player. However, without additional security measures, thieves can still fetch and download the content. Worse, there’s no watermark on the downloaded file since it was part of the video player instead of the video file. Therefore, choose a tool that adds the static watermark to your video file. That way, your watermark will follow no matter where your content goes.
Fighting copyright and intellectual property infringement is a long and costly endeavor best avoided with prevention. While video watermarking serves multiple purposes, the end goal for most users is to protect their content from unwanted distribution. Check out our library of helpful content to make a plan for keeping your videos protected: