Livestreaming Is Coming Of Age
A new generation of apps is putting livestreaming back in the headlines, but are consumers ready to adopt the technology? The launch of Meerkat, as well as faster mobile data speeds and an increasing demand for video content, may ﬁnally mean yes.
The history of livesteaming
Though livestreaming has technically been around for years, it has never been widely adopted by consumers beyond the gaming community and the diﬀerent iterations of Chatroulette. Various companies, from Ustream to Google, have attempted to mainstream the idea of the livestream, but most users continue to forego real-time broadcasting in favor of publishing edited content after the fact (à la YouTube
). This has largely been an eﬀect of sluggish progress in taking livestreaming technology mobile; clunky websites, slow mobile data speeds and high costs have kept livestreaming shackled to the desktop, where live content doesn’t vary enough to draw audiences en masse. Brands, publishers and organizations, on the other hand, have made livestreaming a part of the content mix, but have struggled with ﬁnding turnkey solutions to do it successfully.
What is impacting the future of livestreaming
Data is faster and cheaper than it has ever been, and apps like Snapchat and Twitter have made us comfortable with live, unedited publishing. Enter Meerkat: a new, free mobile app that makes livestreaming so simple that new users can be signed up and livecasting within seconds. It is also integrated with Twitter, cutting out the need for a separate sign-up process, instantly connecting users with their Twitter followers and automatically tweeting when a livestream begins. Like Pinterest, it is Meerkat’s close integration with an existing and thriving platform (in this case, Twitter) that is allowing its user base to rapidly take oﬀ, with close to 45,000 streams on Twitter in the 8 weeks since Meerkat launched. While other apps have failed to bring their audiences to the livestream, Meerkat brings the livestream to the audience. It is worth noting that Meerkat was initially an experiment created by the development team at Israeli startup Air, which focuses on instant livestreams on multiple platforms, not just Twitter.
Implications for brands
The rise of instant livestreaming brings numerous possibilities for marketers, and there is still plenty of time for low-cost experimentation, since no platform has yet to achieve widespread adoption like Twitter or Facebook. Livestreaming can be a fantastic way to bring live events to life on digital platforms, oﬀer behind-the‐scenes access, or serve as a Google Hangout alternative. A number of content outlets (e.g. CNN) have eagerly experimented with Meerkat, hoping to leverage early adopter status to their advantage. As the ability to broadcast is democratized by livestreaming, on-the-ground reporting will increasingly happen not only via text-based tweets, but also by livestreaming. There are plenty of marketing implications for product launches, live events and even real-time customer service.
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