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Demystifying Live Video: 4 Steps to a Compelling Experience

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The maturation of live video is finally upon us. As viewers seek out live video-viewing experiences to access unique events and content, brands are publishers are using these experiences to grow and engage their audiences. Moreover, technological improvements have paved the way for seamless streaming quality that offers more frictionless viewing and expanded monetization opportunities.

When it comes to engaging audiences, live viewing experiences can be incredibly effective. Research shows that live videos are watched up to 3X longer than non-live videos. As a result, live video is outpacing the growth of other types of online video when measured by ad views.

Here’s a quick primer for publishers considering live video in 2018.

Step 1: Make sure live video meets your business objectives.

It’s only natural to want to chase the next big thing, whether that is VR, AR, 360° video, or live—but not having a clear objective and reason for using live video is one of the most common mistakes a publisher can make.

Before pursuing live video, you’ll want to confirm that the format is uniquely suited to your business objectives. What is it about a shared live video experience that will bring people closer to your brand or your content? How will a live stunt ultimately drive awareness and/or engagement in a way that a non-live event cannot achieve?

For example, Lexus effectively used Facebook to live stream the 10-hour assembly process of a modified RC 350 F SPORT order to raise awareness of the luxury coupe in a creative fashion. Similarly, Dailymotion recently partnered with Outside Lands to bring the San Francisco-based music festival to an extended audience of music-lovers from around the world. A true win-win, the live event exposed the festival to a relevant audience while offering a valuable and memorable experience for the community.

Based on these objectives, you can set and prioritize the appropriate KPIs. Some KPIs associated with live video engagement include: concurrent users (CCUs), which measures how many people are viewing during a specific period of time; average time viewed per user; and total viewing time across all viewers. If you’re focused on audience growth, you’ll, of course, want to track new channel followers before and after the live event.

Step 2: Build your workflow before the main event.

Pulling off a live event requires significant coordination across editorial, production, and technology teams. Once you decide to kick off a live video project, you’ll want to establish a comprehensive workflow, from streaming and capture to monetization and promotion, in order to guarantee a flawless experience with maximum ROI.

When it comes to cost, budgets can range from $1,000 (a basic camera with equipment and a free Dailymotion live account, for example) to $100,000+ depending on the level of production and media spend, if increased distribution is one of your objectives.

Pre-live checklist:

  • How are you going to film your live content? Consider your hardware needs, including cameras, microphones, and additional equipment well in advance so you can ensure you have the budget and materials needed to execute on your vision.
  • How will you stream and host your live content? You’ll need to sync your video with a piece of software called an encoder, which compresses live video into an internet signal that can be streamed on the web. Make sure your live-streaming technology can receive live content from an encoder directly and transcode the live video into compressed formats that are optimized for a range of devices and/or internet speeds.
  • Do you have a rehearsal strategy? As a best practice, you should aim to test the live stream a few times before the main event. Use a platform that allows you to conduct complete run-throughs in “ghost mode,” without making them visible to viewers.
  • Do you know what happens if something goes wrong? Communicate a process for troubleshooting before you begin filming. Set clear expectations for support during the broadcast, and make sure that everyone knows how to escalate issues should they arise.
  • Have you aligned on a process for promotion, both before and after the live event? Sync with marketing, PR, audience engagement/development and other teams to ensure your efforts are capturing the attention they deserve.

Step 3: Over-prepare for a flawless live stream experience.

Streaming a live stunt can have multiple moving pieces, so the more tasks you can automate or plan for ahead of time, the better you will be able to focus on streaming a flawless piece of content that will keep viewers tuned in.

Before streaming, prepare—and then over-prepare—for anything that’s not related to the actual production (e.g. promotion and monetization). When it comes to the streaming, it’s well worth your time to vet trusted technology partners with deep expertise in live-streaming and dedicated support throughout the filming process.

In-event checklist:

  • Do you have a strategy for promoting live content during your event to ensure constant tune-in? Coordinating with your marketing and/or community team will help bring on new viewers throughout the entire broadcast.
  • Do you have a means for auto-recording the live broadcast? The impact of your live event should extend beyond the live airing window. In addition, your community team can also use clips to tease content via social media.
  • Do you have a troubleshooting strategy in place? The first step is determining the source of the issue: capture, internet, encoder, or technology. As you shop for a technology partner, ensure that live support is part of the offering.
  • Finally, how are you monetizing the live event? Ad-supported platforms will offer a revenue share model that allows you to monetize your live audiences.

Step 4: Maximize the afterburn effect. 

Just because a live stream has ended doesn’t mean that the benefits need to stop. Your live event can continue delivering audience engagement and revenue after the initial broadcast.

Post-event checklist:

  • Do you have a means for quickly publishing the full stream to your preferred video hosting platform? Make sure your technology partner is able to record as the broadcast airs, which allows you to begin promotion immediately thereafter.
  • Do you have a broader distribution strategy? Partner with your marketing team to ensure viewers who missed the live event can easily discover the recorded content. Consider owned channels like your website, email, and social media as you think about how to extend the reach of your content beyond the live audience.
  • Does it make sense to re-broadcast your live video to maximize the experience? Some publishers find that re-airing the live experience following the original broadcast is an effective way to capture viewers who might have missed it.
  • Finally, have you scheduled a debrief with the core live team? This is especially helpful for companies that are new to live video. Set aside some time to have a thoughtful conversation about what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved upon next time. Write down the most important takeaways and resurface the next time you kick off a live video project.

Live video, when executed against clear business objectives, can lead to significant gains in audience growth and engagement. Above all else, the two most important keys to success for publishers are: 1) having a solid preparation plan that aligns all stakeholders well before the event; and 2) partnering with a trusted technology partner that has the live video expertise and guaranteed support needed to achieve a flawless execution and maximum ROI.

Vincent Colombet is Head of Live for Dailymotion.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article. StreamingMedia.com accepts contributed articles based solely on their value to our readers.]

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