Has Live Streaming Become A Critical Marketing Strategy?

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Last year, Chinese steamer Yuansan live-streamed himself sleeping for two days, attracting 18 million viewers. Yes, you read it right. 

In 2016, live streams began to grow in Japan and Germany on YouNow, Periscope, and UStream. While common motivators to host such sessions were reaching target audiences, and creating communities, another reason that got brands to invest in live-streaming was to channel consumers’ boredom. 

The boredom economy allowed brands to invest in home improvement, online shopping, and trading activities along with regular marketing campaigns. A community of shoppers enjoy the concept of live commerce, merging of live streaming and eCommerce. In 2016, Nissan live streamed its new product Maxima, and in the same year, consumers witnessed Kohl’s streaming, promoting its Black Friday sales. 

Interestingly, the effective marketing tool had seeped into the industry years ago. Research reveals that live streaming exploded due to the Eastern social media. Alibaba had become a branding portal for influencer marketing, and the tech giant demonstrated great potential for eCommerce with live streaming strategies.

Hubspot reported that in 2019, people had watched over a billion hours of live video, and 82 per cent of consumers prefer a live video instead of the common social media marketing content. In 2020, the pandemic caused an explosion that allowed live streaming to exponentially grow by over 90 per cent, allowing the business industry with opportunities to establish trust and brand authenticity to a larger audience. For instance, the streaming platform Taobao generated billions of sales in 2020. App Annie reported that live streaming apps had a $1.2 billion spending growth in 2020. The dramatic rise is a clear indication to marketers to level up their marketing strategies. 

Apple gets over 10 million viewers worldwide for their live product releases and promotions. Microsoft gathers millions of users for their XBOX game releases. From brand announcements, interviews and Q&A sessions to webinars, there is little content that cannot have the maximum effect through a live streaming session. The tool began to demonstrate its true power of converting a hundred viewership audiences into millions.

Also Read: Taking eCommerce to the Next Level

The Early Adopters

Ninja, aka Richard Tyler Blevins, began live streaming as early as 2011. By 2020, the professional gamer had over 23 million subscribers and is an icon in the gaming world. There was a time when only the gaming industry plundered live streaming potential. Predominantly used by gamers, Twitch had 1.7 billion hours of watch time in November 2020 alone. While YouTube recorded 100 billion hours of live gaming content in 2020, two times more than the hours reported in 2018, Twitch and Bigo Live had a collective 548 billion hours of live streaming this year. Meanwhile, the strategy had also steadily established itself in the other industries. 

It’s not just tech and gaming companies that do well. From retail, manufacturing, education and hospitality, most industries realise the value of live streaming for stronger brand-customer relationships. General Motors was the first automotive brand to conduct a product release through Facebook’s live stream. 

Apart from product demonstrations, brands that offer services also leverage streaming. Peloton and iFit began streaming home work-out sessions, and Spotify began to conduct live concerts to bring audiences together. 

Adding behind-the-scenes elements to the live streams is a clever technique to establish a deeper connection with the brand, enabling them to be a part of the product celebration. For instance, Molbak’s Garden and Home used Facebook Live to stream a series of tutorials on home gardening.

Living in the experience economy, consumers are inclined towards live action, and inculcate a deeper relationship with the brand, influencers, and the endorsed products. AdWeek reported that 70 per cent of consumers who feel more connected to the brand are likely to spend twice the amount as any average customer. 

The Benefits

Livestream research reveals that 80 per cent of customers prefer live streaming to reading blog posts and 82 per cent choose live streaming over social media content as well. Better lead generation, improved customer retention and revenue growth are other factors of a well-conducted live stream. 

Another reason for its stronghold is accessibility. Twenty years ago consumers did not prioritise brand value over the product they needed. Today, they demand transparency and observe brand character. 

An ABI study revealed that 91 million users will be utilising live streaming by 2024. Other statistics reveal that 62 per cent of customers have a negative opinion about the brand if it publishes poor quality live streaming video. According to Grandview research, the live streaming industry will be worth over $187 billion by 2027. 

With such high numbers, there’s a huge potential of live streaming as a marketing strategy, and brands are monetising it.

It’s important to choose right

Consumers seldom have patience with technical glitches. It is essential for the company to set goals, determine the features they cannot compromise on, and choose wisely. It is often recommended for brands to compare platforms and consider compatibility with other available live streaming technology.

While there are several platforms and vendors that offer live streaming services, businesses must take some key elements into consideration before purchase. From video content management tools, secure video streaming solutions, real-time messaging protocol for playback support to live streaming APIs for enhanced content management and encoding software for live video delivery, it is an important decision that can make or break a brand. 

Not many brands realise that for RTMP encoders to be affordable, the platform they choose has to support RTMP ingestion. Moreover, with several streaming protocols popping up such as SRT and WebRTC, brands must research each of its functionality before purchase.  For instance, WebRTC is best used for web-conferencing. 

Apart from the usual streaming platforms such as Facebook, Twitch, and Instagram, businesses should focus on professional live streaming platforms that include better features from integrated video paywalls to easy integration tools.

Also Read: Going Viral Is Getting Serious

Here’s a list of five popular platforms that you need to know about if you’re looking to get in the streaming game:

Dacast

With comprehensive live streaming, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard. With low latency HTML5 channels, Player API, and VOD platform, Dacast was listed for the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award in 2020. 

IBM Cloud Video

Offering both customer-grade and enterprise streaming solutions, the platform has a wide range of features for broadcasters. It has a unique enterprise content delivery network and their OVP supports live event coverage, video marketing, and monetisation. 

JW Player

Although known for its HTML5 video player, the platform launched JW Live that supports HLS adaptive live streaming, multi-bitrate transcoding, and real-time analytics. The platform also has good advertising tools and is specifically designed for large business enterprises.

Vimeo Live Streaming

Vimeo’s integrated system of hardware, software, and cloud services platform has over 10 million events every year. With unlimited viewership option and detailed analytics option, Vimeo comes with a large storage capacity and an upload from anywhere feature.

StreamShark

Essentially a technology company, StreamShark offers B2C and enterprise streaming while ensuring reliability through its multi-vendor approach. The platform has mobile compatibility and provides detailed viewer reports.