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Live Webcasting. Share or Share Not?
Webcasting is about sharing. The reason we broadcast anything is to allow more people to view the content.
But in all types of live webcasting and video internet or OTA broadcasting there are limitations to what is really free to watch and what is openly shared. Some limitations are due to the nature of the information being presented in the webcast. Some are not.
These limitations are the result of different motivations. Let’s look at the different types of “webcasting, the webcasters behind them and the reasons for sharing or not sharing.
And we’ll ask what the common webcasting services and technology is that all of these types of webcasts need, whether they are paid for, shared, secure or free.
Entertainment Event Webcasting
Live events such as concerts, shows, episodic productions are almost all driven by the financial motivation. Many of these entertainment webcasts and events will be pay-per-view. If they are not behind a webcasting or broadcasting “paywall”, then the viewer trades something for the ability to view the webcast. This can be personal information that can be used to market to the viewer. It can be by inserting Advertising in the webcast. Sponsorship of the event which results in a brand being prominently displayed in the streaming video.
All of these com at some cost to the viewer, even if no payment is required. You give up your email, you watch ads and have to wait for the streaming video to continue, or you are subject to seeing logos and images of products along with the webcasting content you do want to see. Often a combination of all of these.The webcasters behind these webcasts have to have a webcasting service that provides a secure means of accessing the content, gathering the users information and managing the e-commerce payment process, or inserting ads or displaying sponsorship branding into the stream.
Finding a single live webcasting technology that can handle not only the video streaming itself, but the access control is the key to these webcasters and their success. Even though webcasting is a component of what they entertainment Webcasting service does, the skills and technology are not necessarily right in their wheelhouse.
Developing a live webcasting department has been the result for many broadcasters since they have broadcasting and video technology skills already. The missing pieces are fewer and possibly there is already someone on staff that has some knowledge of webcasting. A key problem here is focus. With one type of production being the norm, can you integrate webcasting into your equipment, software and workflow for the events without breaking something that is working now? Some have have homegrown this specialized subset of broadcasting as a live webcasting service in-house successfully But many have not, or at least at a much higher cost than anticipated. And then there is the issue of Scale. If you have a goof process and a set staff that knows that process, what do you do when you need multiples of that staff and process? How adaptable are those people that webcast your events?
Corporate Live Event Webcasting
More and more people no matter the size of the company they might work for, have watched some type of company webcast. Savvy webcasters and communication departments are finding new uses of webcasting all the time. There is good reason for that. It’s difficult to argue against the effectiveness of a webcast for delivering complex messages clearly, and cost effectively.
Townhall webcasts, as they are called, have become a staple in corporate communications. Quarterly meetings, product updates, executive announcements. Townhall webcasts share presentations and information within a secure environment across many miles and locations. By their nature these webcasts need to be “Live”. Although on-demand viewing and access is important and should be part of the process, the live webcasting is the critical element. Town Hall webcasts may seem simple in concept, but the security and sensitive nature of the complex messages and content make them crucial and require absolute flawless execution.
The value of webcasting in a corporate environment is in the cost per viewer. To a company that recognizes that great communication is a key to an engaged workforce, webcasting is a natural choice. In today’s business world, sharing business intelligence, discussions, training, news, and info that you do not want to share outside your organization demands some level of webcasting. Exactly how to securely webcast within a company that is busy doing what it does, has been the stumbling block. Defaulting to the simplest and most unorganized types of webcasts such as screen sharing applications can create a sense of disorganization and lack of effort on the part of management by the workforce. As with any communication effort to present a quality effort in webcasting, some knowledge of the options is needed. That requires some simple research.
To those that do investigate the task; namely producing secure live webcasts reliably with a properly professional image, high quality video and graphics and often on very short notice, the big picture emerges. The job of live webcasting a consistent message to a large audience, in a professional manner securely reveals the complex web of skills and technologies that are needed. Yet people do it. How?
For the corporate world to pivot and try to develop a new department, hire the properly experienced staff and manage this subset of in-house skills has costs. Just knowing what skills and tools are needed takes someone – or even a staff of people – with those skills to define the positions, interview, hire and create a budget for equipment and software. The cost is that time, the human resources, and the money wasted getting up to speed. How long will you give them to “get going”? During that time you’re either missing the opportunity to benefit from live webcasting internally, or you’re paying an outside webcasting service and your in-house staff as they learn. Likely both.
Expanding the audience for a conference is the goal of any event organizer. Larger venues where more attendees can attend onsite means more revenue. Arranging that larger venue brings with it a number of costs and possible limitations. First the venue. Securing more space to increase your audience means a larger room, or an expanded room setup at a significant cost often with guarantees. The space you need may not be available in the location that works for the event, the speakers or the participants. Or may not be available on the days that work best or which have been planned for.
The cost to add attendees is not trivial. It’s more than the chair they sit in. Food and beverage, amenities, security, parking, rooms, A/V costs, all of this needs to be paid for before another seat is sold. Guarantees can be strict and costly. Paying for the possibility of a larger audience at an in person event is the largest hurdle to event organizers in increasing attendance and revenue. On the other hand, Live Webcasting scales your audience at almost no additional cost and with very little need to preplan for more attendee webcast viewers. Hundreds even thousands of additional viewers can attend online at little or no additional cost while generating new revenue.
Conference organizers have no business being in the business of managing live webcasting, but they have every reason to get into the business of selling live webcasting attendance. It’s the most cost effective way of increasing revenue and audience. When using an appropriately skilled and experienced live webcasting service partner, the event organizer should need zero skill, zero staff and zero experience in the technology of webcasting to see increased attendance.
Conference webcasting is almost always secure, and behind a paywall. The information is meant to be shared, but at a cost. Viewers will pay that cost if the content is valuable to them. Most conference webcasts focus on industry advancements, career growth or sharing knowledge within a discipline; (think coding and programming, healthcare research and management, advances in technologies). Employing webcasting technology for conferences requires more capabilities than entertainment or single-session Townhall webcasts. These functionalities include user registration, confirmation emails, sponsor placement and e-commerce for sales. Building and displaying an agenda before, during and after the event to allow viewers to select what they wish to view or pay for. Displaying synchronized slides and graphics with the presenters video in HD quality. In general we need to be aware that paying viewers expect a quality product. Not to say employees don’t expect excellence in the employers communications.
Selling On-Demand viewing after the event by having a video archive of past conferences adds value to the events.Choosing a webcasting platform and method of webcasting that allows for control of sales and access to both the Live and Archived events even on an event of session by session level should be considered.
Conference organizers that have successfully grown their audiences have overwhelmingly done so through selling streaming as an attendance option. Streaming live as a registration option should be built-in to the platform used for the webcasting.
Associations that use webcasting for member training and outreach have many of the same needs as conference organizers. These include annual or more frequent conferences that could be live webcast to a global audience. The need for a single web address with a one stop web portal website that can deliver not only the association or events message but house and stream live and on-demand video.
A Single Live Webcasting Destination
You don’t have to go in. You can find the right webcasting service and platform that will manage all of the technology and production making webcasting at a very high level seem easy to you, the customer. Giving in? That’s using the popular social media services such as Facebook Live or a YouTube channel as a means of webcasting. Yes at a simple level that can be done. No question about it. Have at it. But telling users to “Go to YouTube of Facebook” to watch your webcast just might give the wrong impression of your organization’s ability to manage and produce the webcast or even the level of care put into the message and operation.
Someone still has to operate that service’s webcasting tools, and set the channel or event up properly. Having Facebook or YouTube’s brand mixed in with yours is part of the deal. no exclusivity and opportunity for distraction runs high here. Privacy and security need to be considered, and for company webcasts such as Town Hall webcasts, consider if you feel good about having highly sensitive information on a site that millions of viewers all over the world have access to. Paid viewership? How can you control that on YouTube or Facebook? Archive of past events?
Your organization has invested considerably in controlling and maintaining a web presence. It’s valuable. Your existing web properties and domain names deliver incredible results and value in so many ways. You should do the same for your webcasting initiatives. Start by having a single branded web address of your choice, even using a subdomain of your domain which you control. Have this single location serve as your Media Portal. This is not only easier to manage then using a social service, it folds right into your existing brand and ecosystem. Why would you send someone off to a place that may have competitors ads or videos playing?
Some webcasting services can even provide you an embed code that your staff then has to place somewhere on your website. This addresses the brand and control issue but raises that IT staff, implementation and resources issue. And lacks the archives and paywall capabilities.
Ideally you would want to use a single live webcasting service vendor that can provide all of the below.
- A single web address of your choice.
- With live and archived webcasts, in a portal that you control.
- All of the video production services needed for the webcast. Even in multiple rooms.
- Synchronized graphics and video and other player features such as Q and A.
- An organized archive of past streaming webcasts that you control the visibility of.
Taking all of that into account, it comes down to control and completeness.
How much control do you have of the content and its delivery method?
How compete is the webcasting service?
To get the answers you need before choosing a live event webcasting service ask your prospective vendors these questions.
- Do I get a Web Media Portal built exclusively for my events?
- Do you provide all staff before, during and after the event?
- Do you provide integrated user registration and management?
- Do you include all web hosting and content delivery/streaming?
- Do you include Pre-webcast testing and any required pre-production?
- Do we get a unique web address for your webcast events or portal?
- Can we have an unlimited number of live webcast webinar participants?
- Do we get complete access to and control of webcast archives that we can share?
- Do we get a branded website portal as required?
- Do you provide a Video webcast player with Synchronized PowerPoints?
- Can we create and edit presenter photos and session descriptions or an agenda?
- Is there Live Q&A, and user reporting for immediate feedback?
- Do you integrate with our internet merchant account or Paypal so we can charge viewers?
Let me know in the comments. What do you think about the using sites that are not under your control for your organizations live event webcasting?