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The ROI of Enterprise Webcasting: Justifying the Expense

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That said, Molina makes it clear that GoToWebinar is not only about cost savings -- it’s allowed her to offer more services to existing members and extend the AICTC’s marketing reach. For example, while on­site meetings have been cut to three or four per year, she now offers weekly training webinars to groups of 50 to 75 members. She’s also added a new service called masterminding where groups of six to eight members can meet to share ideas, plans, and goals, which provides a group “accountability” that’s produced “amazing” results.

On the marketing front, Molina uses GoToWebinar to offer free introductory training courses to prospective members, so they can “test drive” the key benefits of the organization. This marketing vehicle has proven so effective that AICTC no longer exhibits at trade shows, since she can meet prospects “in a classroom environment, which is what we specialize in.”

GoToWebinar also allowed Molina to meet another goal: reducing the carbon footprint of her organization and its members by more than 200 tons per year. To calculate that figure, she took the average number of webinar attendees and multiplied it by the average emissions associated with travelling to an AICTC event. “We are a very green company, and the reduction in our carbon footprint with web conferencing has been tremendous,” she says.

CommPRO.Biz: Finding New Sources of Revenues

Looking beyond cost savings, there are many instances where online video enables new revenue channels that couldn’t otherwise exist. One example is CommPRO.biz, an online media platform for business communications professionals. Founded in October 2010, the company has six employees in its offices on midtown Manhattan’s Park Avenue South.

According to co­founder Fay Shapiro, CommPRO.biz is like “the Huffington Post for B2B marketing professionals,” with six content areas stocked almost exclusively with sponsored content. Website visitors include more than 75,000 C­suite executives, who visit the site to read the content, share their opinions and collaborate with others.

CommPRO.biz grew by 72 percent in 2013, and one growth area is sponsored webcasts, which accounts for about 30 percent of the company’s revenue. Though CommPRO.biz does collaborate with brick and mortar events, Shapiro says that “99.5 percent of our events are virtual.” The obvious reason is reach. “Our audience is global,” Shapiro says. “Some recent webcasts pulled over 11,000 viewers from the U.K., and over 5,000 from Australia. You can’t reach that kind of distributed audience at a traditional live event.”

CommPRO.biz produces three or four webcasts a month, most using the Onstream Media Platform. Shapiro, who had worked with multiple webcasting systems in previous jobs, chose Onstream because “they’ve got great technology and pricing, and the Onstream team, which helps us coordinate and produce events, is absolutely five-star, a critical component of their overall value proposition.”

Even when participating in traditional events, Shapiro strongly advocates a live online presence. “You have to use webcasting to carry the live event beyond the brick and mortar; it’s not either or, it’s both.”

SiliconANGLE: Monetizing New Eyeballs

SiliconANGLE.com is another example of a business that uses online video in ways that would not be affordable with traditional technologies. By way of background, SiliconANGLE was founded by John Furrier in 2009 as a real-time news site focusing on technology and related companies.

One of the company’s principal audience acquisition tool is broadcasting live from industry conferences that are large enough to generate a significant worldwide audience but not large enough for traditional broadcasters. In 2013, the company broadcast from conferences such as Amazon’s AWS Summit, Accel Partners Symposium, IBM Flash, and EMC World, often streaming live from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for multiple days.

Furrier estimates that live consumption of content from these events outnumbers on-demand by about 10-to-1, with David Pogue and other techno-celebrities drawing more than 100,000 live views when he spoke at a recent IBM conference. “We focus on events that otherwise don’t get covered,” Furrier says, “like ESPN back in the day with the NCAA Tournament.”

While the company uses its own homegrown appliance for production -- Furrier boasts that they can roll in and be ready for a six-camera shoot in under and hour -- the company quickly eschewed developing its own live streaming service, opting first to go with Justin.tv and later switching to Ustream for conferences. “When you’re streaming 13 hours a day, the transit costs alone would have killed us,” Furrier says.

Though SiliconANGLE still uses Justin.tv for some broadcasts, it switched to Ustream for conferences because of Ustream’s superior analytics and quality, which Furrier felt helped take their broadcasts to the “next level.” He sees Ustream as the “DevOps” for media companies like SiliconANGLE, providing both the software production and distribution environment and the distribution structure that few companies could afford on their own.

According to Furrier, affordability is key. Though some costs of the live webcasts are covered by sponsorships, the company primarily monetizes the audience through their blogs and research organization. “Our live broadcasts have synergy with other areas,” he says, “but without Ustream’s ability to make it affordable, we probably couldn’t make it work.”

Experian Data Breach Resolution: Dramatically Expanding Marketing Reach

Experian Data Breach Resolution, powered by the nation’s largest credit bureau, is a leader in helping businesses plan for and mitigate consumer risk following data breach incidents. Traditionally, the company has marketed its services through email, direct mail, website, and event marketing. According to brand management coordinator Brandon Tarnow, these methods had some significant limitations.

“Our integrated mix of traditional marketing could only generate so much awareness with our opt-in list, and we wanted our event and engagement to live well beyond our standard reach of in-person show attendees,” he says.

Accordingly, the last few times an Experian executive spoke at a privacy conference, Tarnow decided to stream the event live. “We were seeking to amplify the impressions from a presentation by our executive, and gain more brand awareness with other potential clients that didn’t attend the conference,” he says.

Experian turned to Ustream for several reasons. First, Ustream offered a completely turnkey service, bringing in all necessary equipment and personnel. “They handle all of the production, and we simply show up with our computer to present,” Tarnow says.

Second, because of Ustream’s social media support, they were able to add live Q&A for those watching the broadcast, enhancing interactivity and engagement. The live broadcast also allowed Experian’s PR team to leverage the presentation among the press and other media via a press release with the stream URL.

Finally, Ustream’s LiveAd feature allowed Experian to meet greatly expanded viewer targets for the event. Here’s how LiveAd works: Before the event, Ustream meets with Experian to identify their target audience and set viewer targets. Then, Ustream creates a media plan that identifies websites that align with those targets. Ustream distributes the content to these websites during the event, spilling over to rebroadcasts or on-demand broadcasts if the targets aren’t met. To harvest leads, viewers who click the player in the embedded website are taken to an Experian page where they can enter contact and other information.

While Experian declined to share cost information, it’s obvious that none of this came cheap. On the other hand, with a high-value service like Experian’s, the ability to extend their message beyond the 200 attendees in the room to a guaranteed relevant audience seems like a wise investment. As Tarnow concluded, “Their syndication efforts really help inject life into the panel in a big way. An event can quickly go from a few thousand views to a few hundred thousand views.”

Hypothetically, if the proverbial CFO happens to sit at Tarnow’s desk, and asks whether his investment in streaming media expense has paid for itself, you’d have to think he could say yes, and back it up with evidence. After all, Experian has produced multiple events with Ustream using this schema. While it’s not for every company and every product, Ustream’s services would likely have been fully funded and more if even a handful of the hundreds of thousands of impressions that Ustream delivered converted into a client.

As I said at the start, justifying streaming media isn’t all about saving money, though obviously that’s a meaningful component. It’s also about opening up new revenue or customer acquisition channels and expanding the reach of traditional brick and mortar events. I hope these stories have given you some direction -- now the ball is in your court.

This article appears in the May 2014 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "The ROI of Enterprise Webcasting."

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