A renewed mania for live-streaming kicked off in digerati circles this year when the Meerkat app stole the show at SxSW in Austin. The ability to stream video from an event without relying on a remote set-up was a game-changer. A week later, Twitter launched their rival app, Periscope, with a mission to ‘build the closest thing to teleportation - to take you someplace and show you around.’
With all the press coverage both apps have attracted you’d be forgiven for thinking live video streaming is new to the internet but it’s been around for years. Justin.tv ‘lifecasting’ service was launched in 2007 and developed into Twitch, the live game-viewing service which has amassed over 55 million subscribers. Not to mention Google+ video hangouts which have been here since 2011, and whatever happened to Chatroulette?
If live-streaming is nothing new, are Meerkat and Periscope offering a genuinely new proposition for the main social networks? Could they become significant marketing tools for brands? Although big brands such as Adidas, DKNY and Red Bull are already jumping on the bandwagon, live video is hard to control and do really well. While marketers will always want to be in control, the immediacy and intimacy of live video is perfect for connecting with audiences through exclusive content and shared experiences. Promoters of sporting events, fashion shows, gigs, art and music festivals should take note.
Although there are control and quality risks, brands ought to start thinking about the potential of connecting with customers via live-streaming. The rise of Twitch and the early success of Periscope and Meerkat suggest that consumers are making a transition from video playback to real-time consumption. YouTube in particular may need to keep on its toes as live streaming brings consumers even closer to brands and celebrity vloggers. If viewers move over to Periscope and Meerkat then advertising and sponsorship money would follow suit, with brands using these new platforms to reach consumers.