Does the ability for everyday people and brands to live stream at will constitute a game changer? While streaming technology is not new, the recent launch of two competing platforms has marketers and media outlets scrambling to take advantage while protecting themselves.
Meerkat quietly launched with rumblings of a new app that allowed people to live stream anything and broadcast through a built in Twitter integration. Watching it becoming the hit of SXSW 2015, Twitter announced the early launch of Periscope, an almost identical platform they had purchased.
Like any new technology, marketers and media are quickly learning that there are opportunities and threats when consumers are given the reigns of production.
Opportunity: Exclusive and Expanded Customer Engagement
The ability for a brand to open its doors beyond pre-produced content and direct engagement enables them to create an even more rounded 360° experience. In addition, this technology allows more opportunities for c-suite executives to come out from behind the desk in creative and direct ways. In an effort to humanize its brand and provide consumers with a more personal connection to executives, Box CEO Aaron Levie took to Meerkat to show off his more fun side and perform card tricks.
Opportunity: Be First and Fast
Time is the single factor standing in the way of trendsetting and trend-following. The ability to make announcements live, showcase a new product in real-time and engage in a real-time world event will put a brand out front of the pack and not be seen as being late to the game. Shortly after the platform launch, the Miami Dolphins jumped aboard Periscope to announce that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed with the team – bringing the new talent to the fans at the same time as the media.
Threat: Muddying the Copyright Waters
There is a very real legal risk when brands or individuals begin sharing 3rd party copyrighted content. It didn’t take long to see this threat in action during the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight in April, 2015. With promoters charging upwards of $100 to watch the fight on pay-per-view, they found themselves facing a hijacking of the event by people utilizing Meerkat and Periscope to stream the live event to their followers. This incident has sparked lawsuits and will likely lead to regulated guidelines put around live streaming.
Threat: The Unknown
The concept of live inherently comes with risk. Risk of a family brand accidentally capturing indecent language. Risk of a brand exposing company secrets. Risk of a consumer unknowingly becoming part of a brand without explicit consent. With planning and careful control around a live broadcast, risk can be mitigated, but never eliminated.
The one thing to count on with the launch of consumer live-streaming is that while media continue discussing the merits and pitfalls and adoption rates grow, brands will quickly put effort into cracking the code of integrating it into their marketing and communications efforts. Ultimately, the brands that are first on the scene to use this technology in a new and innovative way will reap rewards. Other brands will use a wait and see approach as the kinks are worked out.