Our Renegade Writer of the Month Winner for May, Tom Fryett, takes us through his thoughts on live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, and whether they can add any real brand value.
Ever looked at a picture on Instagram of a friend or family member’s lunch, or dog, or baby and thought – who cares?
And yet the likes don’t lie. Sharing these moments, initially with those you know but also with the potential to reach the world, has become the new normal. At first it was your friend’s life history – where they live, where they work, their birthday, who they go out with – in time it became a picture of what they had for breakfast, or a running commentary of what they’re watching on TV – and now with Meerkat and Periscope you have the opportunity to tune-in to a live stream of your friend having a coffee, walking their dog or the birth of their first child.
Broadcasting a watchable live video stream used to be the preserve of an expensive and complex infrastructure, but as with getting a taxi or booking somewhere to stay on holiday – we’ve clearly reached that disruptive point in Moore’s Law where the majority of people are carrying powerful portable computers, with built in HD video cameras, plus an increasingly fast connection to the outside world and the aforementioned new willingness to share whatever interests them.
Where are we in the hype cycle right now with Meerkat and Periscope? After Madonna’s spectacular failure to premiere her new video via Meerkat last week (the aptly named Ghosttown…), we’re already accelerating away from the initial excitement towards disillusionment, with some commentators pointing to the remaining technical issues with live streaming or what they deem to be small audiences. But it’s too soon for brands to dismiss these apps. As other live streaming platforms like Twitch have recently demonstrated – viewing habits are only getting more fragmented and video content creation has been democratised.
So how can brands get involved? Influential vloggers will play a key part in these early days and existing YouTube creators are already embracing what is a complementary platform – for example deepening their fans’ engagement with their weekly style haul videos by letting them follow the shopping trip itself live. Brands can enable and enhance these experiences for fans and partner with influencers in a way they are already comfortable with from YouTube, sponsoring live streams. Other brands that were already publishing video content across multiple platforms have quickly tested Meerkat or Periscope, with Red Bull streams peppered with “rad!”, “awesome!”, “bodacious!” and “cowabunga!” comments from their fanbase, neatly directed there from their other Owned channels.
Twitter’s knives are out for Meerkat and in Periscope they have their rival offering, surely designed to work alongside Amplify and create more video pre-roll opportunities for advertisers. Looking at their updates to Wall Street, this will likely in time be the other way for brands to get involved, though I won’t be able to retire on my own breakfast broadcasts – they will be the UGC long tail. Looking at the parallels with YouTube, it will be the smaller number of premium Meerkat and Periscope streams that will attract brand dollars. Celebrities and influencers with viewers in the thousands may still not compare to the 1.6m who regularly tune into My Kitchen Rules, but the data and social engagement from these apps will enable brands to deliver value through extremely relevant and personalised messages – and as such are a welcome addition to the ever growing Video landscape.