And It’s Live: Is Streaming the Next Step for Brands?

Live streaming has officially taken off. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are fighting to become the go-to platform for live content. The technology has already been adopted by millions of social media users eager to share their daily lives with the world, but live streaming is yet to really connect with advertisers.

Video has been key in driving ad revenue and growth across social in the last 12 months. In mid-2016, when Facebook reported its profits had almost tripled over the first two quarters of the year, owner Mark Zuckerberg was keen to stress the importance of video: “We see a world where video is first.” Twitter, meanwhile, has introduced a new ‘Explore’ tab in a bid to promote live video on the platform, as well as engage users in trends, search and its Moments feed. Instagram has also recently announced plans to launch Live Stories globally, while Pinterest has added video to its primarily static ad formats.

The move to live streaming follows a behavioural shift. Social media users aren’t content with receiving information before anyone else, they want it as it happens. This is especially important to Twitter. Often the source of breaking news, journalists engage deeply with the social network due to the inherently ‘live’ nature of the chronological timeline. Twitter has also pioneered live streaming of publisher content in an attempt to drive up a slowing user base and attract advertising revenue.

The most recent example of Twitter using live streaming was for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, which received the highest number of live streams for any news event to date. A reported 6.8 million users watched the stream via Twitter alone, highlighting the demand for live content. Twitter has had further success with its NFL partnership, including live streaming Thursday Night Football, which attracted 3.1 million viewers at its peak.

The upcoming Super Bowl live stream on February 5 will be an interesting case study. It is traditionally one of the most important days of the year for American TV advertisers and generates huge traffic for Twitter. But the social platform needs to monetise those extra eyeballs more effectively. Live streaming gives brands the opportunity to target a young, mobile-centric demographic that is becoming harder to reach through linear TV.

For advertisers considering live streaming, the real value is not in the number of viewers, but in the interaction between brand and consumer. The opportunity to own a moment while aggregating the conversation can provide invaluable consumer insights as well as drive marketing KPIs.

If #DrummondPuddleWatch (the live stream that had almost 20,000 people unable to look away from a puddle this time last year) taught us anything, it’s that the interaction of live streaming can matter more than the quality of the content. Now is the time for advertisers to increase brand engagement by going live.