It used to be that viewing an event such as a sports game or a fashion show in-person was the exclusive privilege of a few lucky thousand. However, thanks to the ubiquity of the smartphone, the average consumer now expects access to his or her favorite goings on, more or less, in real time.
Fortunately for them, new livestreaming apps have quickly risen to the occasion. Unfortunately for retailers, the growing pains of working with the technology can pose more than just minor headaches.
In fact, when it comes to connecting with millennials, Reuters reported that some brands are more than happy to roll with the punches of a nascent technology if it gets them impressions and conversions. In an October livestream on Periscope of BMW’s North American unveiling of its M2 coupe model, BoF explained technical issues that caused choppy video and the occasional heckler in the comments section marred an event marketers usually like to keep pristinely managed and scrubbed of offensive or low-quality content.
“The biggest sort of potential headache of Periscope is that it is a live event and you can’t script anything,” Pete Harmata, digital innovations manager at BMW of North America, told Reuters. “You have to adjust on the fly, which can be pretty strenuous.”
However, Kara Wallace, vice president of North American marketing for Royal Caribbean International, told Reuters that she thinks livestreaming is “the future of marketing.” But when her company decided to livestream certain customers’ vacations on-site, planning ahead for manmade or technical disasters was a Day 1 project. Because the livestream was to be cross-broadcast to digital billboards throughout New York, Royal Caribbean produced short ads to play if the streams had to be taken down for extended periods of time or to block out objectionable content.
Still, Reuters reported that a similar Royal Caribbean International livestream attracted 30,000 viewers at very little cost to the company other than possibly a hit to its IT department’s reputation. These kinds of viewership numbers can only be expected to grow as other platforms like Meerkat and Facebook’s newly released Live Video feature fine tune their technical performance and as users refine their content. At and a fraction of the cost of setting up a full-fledged press conference, the appeal of thousands of viewers at the push of a button is too good for most brands to pass up.
“There is an authenticity to this kind of campaign,” Wallace told Reuters.
In many ways, livestreaming platforms are as new to retailers as brands are to the service, and neither quite knows the right formula that will lead to true and unfettered engagement with users. However, marketers that wait to establish a footprint on livestreaming services are setting a dangerously incurrent reputation with millennial shoppers on a platform that values instant access over all else.
But when everything comes into alignment during a livestream, Michael Becker, co-founder and managing partner of mobile marketing firm mCordis, told Mobile Commerce Daily that the benefits are manifold.
“Linking marketing to sales is a study in consumer-engagement alchemy, a process that requires interlinking many capabilities, like consumer insight, advertising, SEO topical content and clear call-to-actions that direct consumers to take action, like opt-in, make a purchase and more,” Becker said. “Consumers are invited to participate and be in the know, in real time as the news unfolds for the world. They can share their passion, and if and when the impulse grabs them they are able to make a purchase.”
Is livestreaming the invitation consumers and retailers alike have been waiting for?