There's no real alternative to YouTube.
It's a titan in the online video space, and it has a commanding role in the marketing strategies of automakers and dealers.
Its importance was magnified last month when the Google-owned video service temporarily shut down the accounts of nearly a dozen dealerships without much warning. Google reversed the action after a few days, citing a mistake. But those days of isolation and confusion left some dealers wondering if they could still trust the video giant.
The answer: They don't have much choice. After all, YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the web.
And the largest is Google itself.
YouTube's value as a consumer research tool is hard to duplicate. The site provides a central location where dealers can post their videos and distribute them throughout the web thanks to the site's versatile video format, which allows content to be easily shared anywhere -- including on social media rivals Facebook and Twitter, which are both stepping up their own video offerings.
YouTube's arcane terms of service can confound dealers at times, but that's the price they must pay to be in front of shoppers who are actively searching videos for vehicle information.
Does YouTube have a direct rival?
The answer isn't clear-cut, because YouTube now plays in a variety of areas, the company says. The site owns the video-search space and has bolstered its offerings to include interactive 360-degree videos and live streaming, which puts it on the turf of Facebook and Twitter.
Meanwhile, the debut of the YouTube TV streaming service in select markets challenges cable companies along with services such as Hulu and Netflix. YouTube TV streams a diverse mix of cable networks for $35 a month.
"I don't think YouTube fits in a gray box to be honest," Guy Schueller, Google's industry director for automotive, told Automotive News at the company's office in suburban Detroit. "We can find unique audiences for you with the signals we have, both across search and YouTube [and] we can help automotive brands locate shoppers. ... Video has been one of the highest-rising influencers in the shopping process."