Meerkat and Periscope exploded on the scene over just a few weeks (see below). As people experiment with these platforms, brands don't want to be left out. Campaign Asia-Pacific spoke to digital experts about the prospects and perils of live-streaming platforms, including talking to perhaps the only people in Asia-Pacific who have successfully run an entire campaign based on live streaming.
But first, in case you blinked and missed it, here's a brief summary of the history of Meerkat and Periscope:
- Meerkat launched in late February and got a lot of hype at South by Southwest.
- Meerkat got $14 million in new funding. At the same time, Twitter launched its rival streaming app called Periscope, which Twitter acquired earlier this year.
- Both Meerkat and Periscope rely heavily on Twitter.
- Just as Meerkat took off, Twitter limited Meerkat’s access to the Twitter graph, inhibiting the ability of users to recruit their existing Twitter followers.
- In contrast, users of Twitter’s Periscope have full access and automatically get a tweet sent out to anyone who follows them along with a link taking them to the live video feed. Ouch.
- There are important differences between Meerkat and Periscope: On Meerkat you describe what you’re seeing, hit “stream”, and your followers are alerted to start watching. You can schedule a stream for a later time, but after the stream, the video disappears, like a Snapchat clip. On Periscope, your stream is saved to your phone’s camera roll and to your Periscope profile.
- Concerns over live streaming range from privacy to copyright through to the brand risk of 'broadcast bombing' to concern about data usage.
Learning from what’s already been done: Remote Control Tourist
From an interactive marketing point of view, a good example in the region of a live streaming video campaign in recent memory is Remote Control Tourist. The campaign involved the development of a crowdsourced live streaming travel guide for Tourism Victoria in Australia.
Campaign Asia-Pacific spoke to Sonia von Bibra, executive producer; Christian Russell interactive creative director; and Matt Kingston, senior strategic planner at Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, who worked directly on the project.
The three know only too well the challenges and payoffs that come with a campaign with live video streaming at its core.
“Periscope is really interesting because everyone can be a remote control tourist now,” said Russell. “But the question is how we harness all that into something that is palatable.”
Many of the problems and dilemmas that faced Remote Control Tourist (RCT) are applicable to Periscope and Meerkat. And it all boils down to one thing: How do you manage the risk?
Risks were everywhere on the RCT campaign. They existed out in the field and logistically where the RCTs were filming and engaging with the public through to the live “battle room” that controlled the whole thing.
“Our client was also a government body," said Bibra. "Risk management was a top priority. We had a delay mechanism in place to understand and see what was coming through and to be able to pull the plug if needed.”
“Over five days we only needed to pull the plug once,” she added, where once was enough to make or break the campaign.
In addition to managing what was happening on the ground, release forms had to be given to people who directly engaged with and were recorded on camera. Helmets worn by the RTCs said in large writing, ‘This is live streaming’, to alert passersby and members of the public.
“Using the footage post campaign had to be cross checked with people that signed off on the release forms that were recorded,” said Bibra. “It seems tedious but it was very necessary.”
On the upside, the campaign achieved its strategic goal and created a huge digital footprint.
“In Melbourne, the cultural offering doesn’t just come in museums, but it’s found in the hidden laneways of the city,” said Kingston. “This demanded a big and scary project like Remote Control Tourist, and we managed to get eyeballs from across the world on it.”
The known knowns of live streaming
The application of live streaming is obvious and perhaps limitless. While Periscope holds great potential for everything from product launches to citizen journalism, questions of copyright, privacy, and broadcast cast bombing are just a handful of issues that need to be addressed.
Paul Soon, CEO at Possible Asia-Pacific, recently used Periscope to film and stream his son’s violin performance.
“Whilst I had folks giving me instructions on panning left and right and so on, there were also people broadcast bombing on my feeds,” said Soon. “Now that spells for a lousy experience. For Periscope to be fully adopted by brands they will have to launch a corporate or enterprise version where a bit more control can be applied.”
It doesn’t take much to raise the Internet’s underbelly and to have it rear its ugly head. All that’s needed is a platform and opportunity.
When Campaign test-drove Periscope and tuned in to a live feed titled, “Tell me what to draw”, unnamed users commented, writing things like "circle", "alligator", "two circles next to each other".
However, it didn’t take long for ‘dick’, ‘pussy’, and ‘dick going inside a pussy’ to appear in rapid succession on screen. The host of the video politely ignored the requests and continued drawing circles and alligators.
In another live feed titled “famous movie director in LA”, a user simply wrote, "punch him in the face".
With exciting new platforms like Meerkat and Periscope, the basic marketing questions still apply: What value does it bring to my users? And perhaps in this case, what value do these users bring to the brand?
Obscene, lewd or simply inappropriate content, and commentary that jumps out at you, probably doesn't translate to the best use case. This was another aspect that Remote Control Tourist campaign laboured over.
“With RTC, it was an exhaustive process finding the right candidates that were entertaining and knew what they were doing,” said Russell.
Even if live streaming is democratised, the underlying point is still that the people and the content they produce needs to be interesting, engaging, right for the context and in line with business objectives.
Some brands, such as O2 in the UK have been quick to adopt Periscope, using it in interesting ways. The company streamed a video of one of its employees discussing the features of the HTC One M9 in store, then uploaded the video into Twitter’s native video player before embedding the code into their site.
In this way they were able to maximise a pre, during and post audience, even it was more of a tactic than strategy. The saving grace is that Periscope is still in its infancy.
Quick short-term tactics for using Periscope
- Pre-promote the announcement that you will do a live-stream video. Tell your followers about the app because they’ll need to have it downloaded
- Go to your settings in the app and make sure the app will save the videos to your camera roll.
- Broadcast for some time so that enough viewers can join in and continue to engage through Twitter
- Once your live stream is finished on Periscope, you can edit and promote the footage on other platforms or Twitter’s own native video
The long-term opportunities for Periscope
Antoine Malin, social manager at Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo thinks that the era of personalised reach and fast-growing examples such as Line and WeChat bode well for Periscope. All of these provide brands with opportunities to create one-to-one experiences with users.
“In the past Twitter bought and integrated Vine very well with their platform," Malin said. "We have seen so many great campaigns combining Twitter and Vine. I am sure Twitter will integrate Periscope in the same way, which will allow marketers to come up with new activation ideas.”
Regions in Asia that already engage with similar platforms may find live-video streaming to be an easy behaviour to adopt. “Large Twitter markets like Indonesia would definitely resonate well,” said Soon. “I think that publishers will be the first to benefit from this as they live and die with timely news reporting.”
The trend of personalisation and immediacy is not going away. With broadcasting being second nature to digital natives and new generations of consumers, breaking down boundaries is the norm, although big concerns such as privacy exist.
For now at least, Twitter has got peoples’ attention and it did a sneaky job of stealing Meerkat’s fire.
Over to you: tell us what you think about Periscope
Tweet @CampaignAsia or comment below to tell us what you think about Periscope from a marketing perspective.
While writing the story we also tested Periscope on the fly with a video titled, "Journalist needs a 'hand' writing Periscope story. Help!!" Within five minutes, a whopping 18 viewers tuned in. Here's 10 seconds of that video below.