Brands, Platforms, The Live Video Labyrinth And How Everyone Can Win

With Periscope and Meerkat being two of the breakout stars of this year’s SXSW, and Snapchat serving as the primary engagement tool for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, live video platforms have taken the media, political and business worlds by storm.

Although live streaming has been around since the early days of CU-SeeMe and Ustream, its newest renditions present opportunities for remote digital engagement that have never been seen before — including on mobile — and everyone is trying to figure out how to leverage it.

Organizations know the new generation of live video platforms can have a positive impact across industries, as the platforms become major launching pads for engaging with today’s largest generational group: millennials.

But, concurrently, these platforms pose potential problems for brands that want to deliver controlled experiences; you may recall the issues for HBO and Showtime caused by Periscope during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Generally, these platforms also present challenges like scaling to enterprise-size audiences and convincing audiences to adopt these new forms of engagement.

How do we approach the new live video paradigm? Do we allow for unfettered access by third-party content providers, which ultimately promote our brands? Or, do we limit accessibility in order to maintain control over content?

As it becomes easier for organizations to successfully integrate live video into their digital media strategies, they need to avoid the pitfalls and improve customer engagement while boosting their brand. Here’s how your organization can do it.

Resist A Fear Of The New

There are very apparent problems with the new ability users are given through remote live streams. Primary among them is the viability of controlling proprietary content when most viewers have a device in their pocket that could instantly rebroadcast any event to thousands of other viewers, with or without a license to do so.

Many are taking a strong opposing stance to this development. HBO and Showtime proactively reached out to live-streaming platforms before and during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to take streams down. The NHL banned media from using Periscope or Meerkat, and the PGA Tour recently revoked a reporter’s credentials after she used Periscope to broadcast golfers practicing.

It’s important to set strong boundaries and precedents, but don’t alienate your consumers.

Although each of these organizations has the right to control how its content is distributed, there may be a better approach than prohibiting such platforms. Live-video broadcasting services could present a slippery slope, but the viewers it takes away from televised distribution might not outweigh what could be saved and gained in promotion, marketing and newfound viewership.

Additionally, mobile is not the optimal platform to watch most televised events, so it shouldn’t be viewed as a direct competitor. For instance, the MLB is taking an experimental approach, monitoring fans’ usage of streaming apps to see how they can benefit from the new social media platforms.

It’s important to set strong boundaries and precedents, but don’t alienate your consumers by limiting their ability to interact with your brand and offerings. In this time when new technologies are being introduced, it’s interesting for brands to both experiment and/or observe — similar to what the MLB is doing — to see how they can make these technologies work for their brands and find a way to monetize without policing fans and potentially losing brand affinity from customers. 

Take Advantage Of The New Live Streaming Trend

Overcoming the problem of content protection and distribution is big, but so is operating on the right scale and platform to engage the highest number of viewers.

On Audience Reach: Use Video To Gain Traction

Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit that raises money to help children with cancer, took its local efforts global by using Blue Jeans Primetime, a video event tool. Alex’s Lemonade Stand was able to rally participants and schools from New Jersey to Taiwan over video to kick off its summer fundraising efforts. Over video, participants were able to engage, interact and draw inspiration from other volunteers as they headed out into their yards to raise money for the organization. 

On Platform Choice: Focus On Distribution

For scale, the platform matters. Meerkat and Periscope are great for businesses and organizations that are trying to reach a wide audience affordably and effectively on mobile. The tie-in with social media also makes them perfect when mobilizing a brand within a new audience. For more demanding tasks that still need to reach a wide audience, try video conferencing platforms like Blue Jeans Network or Citrix’s GoToMeeting.

On The Future Of Video Streaming: Consider Stand-Alone Services

New services are also becoming their own stand-alone platforms. For example, Twitch enables gamers to cast and watch gaming events. Gamers were able to jump from static YouTube walk-throughs posted every once in a while to real-time action that’s always on. Today, Twitch counts an average of 100 million viewers a month, and even attracted the attention of Amazon, which acquired them just over a year ago.

Live video platforms have taken the media, political and business worlds by storm.

Several other content consumption trends are also introducing new possibilities for video, including the popularity of Netflix to “binge watch” shows and the recent availability of HBO streaming and consumer demand toward channel unbundling.

For example, most people only truly require live TV for things like championship fights, elections and sports games, and it’s not too far off to imagine that people will opt for cable packages that offer streamlined options in the future. This demand would allow a huge opportunity for live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat to capitalize and reimagine partnerships with cable providers and brands alike.

In all, there’s no denying that the future of live video-streaming services is bright. As this technology is relatively new, kinks will need to be worked out, but platforms like Twitch make it clear that the market holds promise. Mobile is pervasive as advances in connectivity make video streaming easier than ever. Snapchat and Twitter have already changed the way consumers engage with brands; it’s time that apps like Periscope and Meerkat do the same.