By Tom Bannister
Last year saw a lot of startup activity around live streaming, and in 2016 we have seen larger brands taking live seriously.
This week, Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg unboxed Occulus Rift on Facebook Live (pictured), as the service rolls out Facebook Live for all users. NBCUniversal announced a live E! Network talk show also for Facebook and a live integration/installation within NBC’s “Today.” At Twitter, it was revealed that Periscope has gotten 200 million streams in its first year, along with a new chief creative officer. Google rumors of YouTube Connect continue. Twitch further branched out from its gaming base with (weirdly) a Julia Child marathon, and even digital-tip-jar-centric YouNow moved into branded with a partnership with “America’s Got Talent” to host live auditions. Lastly, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen announced a Twitch for food called Nom.
To date, every single week of 2016 has seemed to bring a different awards show, sporting event, festival, conference, rally or talking point, and brands have tried to leverage these moments — most notably at the Grammys and SXSW — across social media platforms (as per usual), but with increasingly intricate live content.
Traditional filmed entertainment is to VOD and away from advertising supported, and all forms of content — from news, to articles to web series to branded films to podcasts — are becoming ubiquitous, its impossible to watch (or even be aware of) even a small portion. Meanwhile, paid media seems to be losing effectiveness to ad-blocking and to stories and ideas that earn traction purely of their own volition. One solution to this multitude of problems is for brands to ride that edge-of-the-internet-dateline-dialog with live content, capitalizing on the moment, rather than being buried underneath the content landslide.
Live lives in that valuable “awareness” phase of the purchasing cycle, and once you hook someone its easier to drive them to other more evergreen content such as brand films, content hubs or YouTube channels, to drive them on towards purchase, or so the thinking goes.
Brand and agency social media “war rooms” for the Super Bowl are nothing new, of course, and Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” success is almost cited as frequently as an example of success in live social content as BuzzFeed’s “Dear Kitten” Purina series is for native content. But, interestingly, brands and the large social networks are moving beyond micro-moments into longer form, more intricate live content. And, with the Olympics coming up and NBC apparently almost out of TV inventory, it’s a trend that could get bigger throughout the year.
Here’s a look at the different live platforms from a perspective of branded content initiatives on them:
Calvin Klein announced this week that it would live broadcast behind-the-scenes from the making of its fall campaign. Previous branded plays range from similar behind-the-scenes broadcasts, such as Adidas’ live streaming their signing of Real Madrid star James Rodriguez, to user-generated competition-centric, like Doritos’ #DoritosRoulette competition, to the bigger plays from Red Bull and Ralph Lauren, which live streamed an entire show at London Fashion Week. Royal Caribbean’s “High On Life” series felt somewhat like a mini-reality series, with thirteen adventurers reporting from St. Kitts.
The live streaming platform recently renewed their partnerships with ESL Org and Rocket League and continued a myriad of game marketing plays like their partnership with Ubisoft to live stream the new game The Division. Beyond gaming, Old Spice launched a campaign inviting Twitch users to control the actions of a real human in a booby-trapped forest. HBO promotes “Silicon Valley” by having its cast over on Twitch to answer users’ questions and showcase upcoming content. TBS held a similar preview event at Twitch HQ in January for its “King of the Nerds” show. Red Bull has a channel on Twitch and frequently collaborates with both esports and extreme sports personalities. Lastly, Adobe partnered with Twitch for the launch of updated Photoshop, with its own channel highlighting the work of native Twitch creatives including painter and illustrator Geers_art, composer SceneOfActionMusic, costume maker Evilfx and glass artist Vieparlafoi.
Popular amongst Gen Z, YouNow has steered away from advertising, instead going for the “digital tip jar” model in which users can spend bars or send their favorite YouNow-ers tips. That may be beginning to change somewhat as it just launched its partnership with “America’s Got Talent” to host auditions for the competition. And, of course, brands can always do direct deals with stars, as they are now beginning to do.
Just launched in September, it’s already added GoPro live and, more recently, live streaming capabilities for mobile gaming, meaning that, as with Twitch, you can watch someone play a mobile game along with the reverse angle of their face talking you through the game play.
There’s also HitNow, Azubu, Livestream, Vokle, Vaguen Live, Flixwagon, Bambuser and Blab (if I wanted to make this post longer). As Facebook and YouTube enter this space in meaningful ways, it will be interesting to see what branded content unfolds. And, of course, don’t forget Snapchat, which isn’t quite live broadcasting but functions pretty close to it and whose success could be driving a lot this (but that’s another story).
This post was penned by VideoInk publishing partner Branded.tv, a one-stop shop for branded entertainment. Branded.tv features and catalogs the best branded entertainment campaigns from around the world.