Though live-streaming video is a well established medium, it has always shackled the viewer and the broadcaster to their desktops, limiting both reach and accessibility. At SilverTech, we see the potential for marketers to break free from the shackles to test the potential for building brand recognition and engagement – broadcasting webinars, product launches, and company events – with real time, mobile streaming apps like Periscope, Meerkat, and imminently, Facebook.
The Race to Be the Live Video App
When mobile/social streaming app, Meerkat, took over SXSW in early 2015, you could almost hear the chains unshackle. Long a platform for breakout success, SXSW had been starving for a hit with the cognoscenti like Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009. It got one with Meerkat. Ingeniously, Meerkat tapped into Twitter’s social graph to allow users to broadcast live video streams from their phone to their Twitter followers. In a fit of pique, Twitter quickly moved to shut Meerkat off. This, at least in the short run, made Meerkat more desirable. Early adopters were broadcasting everything from concerts to mundane cab rides, and everything in between. Others began to take notice.
Enter Periscope. After cutting Meerkat off, Twitter quickly moved to unveil its own entrant into the live streaming space, Periscope. Acquired by Twitter, apparently prior to SXSW, for a reported $100 million the inspiration for the app came to its founder, Kayvon Beykpour, from the protests in Taksim Square in Istanbul in 2013. Beykpour wanted information on what was happening on the ground as he was due to travel to Istanbul, but couldn’t get anything reliable. So, with co-founder, Joe Bernstein, they built an app that could empower protesters and hold authorities accountable with the ability to share with the world what they were seeing in real time. Twitter unveiled the Periscope app soon after SXSW and launched an Apple TV app in the Fall.
The story for much of the rest of the year was Periscope vs Meerkat, but quietly in December, Facebook began testing live video and rolled out the ability to iPhone users in January. With plans to roll out live video to its worldwide audience in the coming weeks, it is likely that mobile live-streaming will become an integral part of the social media juggernaut. CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, indicated as much during the release of the company’s latest financial results stating, “Video is an important part of the Facebook experience, and continuing to invest here is important.”
The Point-of-View Video Revolution
In cinema, the Point of View (POV) shot is where the camera stands in for what the character is seeing and the viewer is placed into the frame of mind of the character. Audiences gasped when they were placed into the scene in 1903’s The Great Train Robbery and one of the robbers turned the gun on them. Abel Gance famously used the POV in 1927’s Napoleon. Hitchcock was the master of the technique, using it to heighten suspense and forcing viewers to crane their necks to see around corners. Since then, it immeshed itself as one of the fundamental pieces of film grammar, paving the way for the extreme videography of the GoPro, and now mobile live-streaming.
The possibilities of POV, live-streaming video that can be watched over a mobile device and shared socially are limitless. For example, consider how different Facebook events will become. Your friend’s concert or poetry reading that you felt bad about not being able to be there in person. Well, soon enough, assuming someone’s there with a smartphone in tow, you’ll be able to check in to the event’s live stream. You’ll be able to subscribe to your favorite celebrities and tune in to their morning routines or back stage shenanigans. It won’t just be events and celebrities that will benefit. As the early adopters of Meerkat and Periscope proved, everyone has a perspective, a point of view, and everything is up for sharing.
What does this mean for marketers and brands? In no time at all, we’ll see brands broadcasting webinars, product launches, and company events over Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook. This means viewers will be able to engage while in airports, waiting rooms, and other in-between places, using nothing more than their mobile device. We’re going to see an extension of the hours that brands can broadcast and we’re going to see more flexibility in what they broadcast. There’ll be no need to keep webinars and learning events to the work hours. Imagine building your brand at 9pm or 7am. Well, it’s coming.
We’re still in the early days of the point-of-view revolution. Periscope and Meerkat are still experimenting, trying out new features and vying for attention. Facebook has yet to fully roll out. However, once B2B and B2C marketers get on board, I think we’ll see these services mature and a new form of self-expression emerge.