Online media and, in effect, online advertising change rapidly. Over the past several years, mobile has leapfrogged all other platforms to take its spot at the top of the online marketing totem pole. Over the past year and a half, the rise of live video has contributed to this success.
It started with the popularity of Meerkat, an app that allowed users to broadcast live video to as many people as possible. With Meerkat, an entire new realm of social sharing was made available—instead of sharing thoughts or a picture, you could share your experiences as they happened. Shortly after the app launched, Twitter bought Periscope, which dealt a devastating blow to Meerkat. The latter quickly pivoted away from live video, and now its original live streaming video service is virtually out of the game.
YouTube’s one-to-many streaming has been offered only to select broadcasters until recently. They also offered streaming on desktops through Hangouts On Air. Now their newest offering, YouTube mobile live, brings broadcasting to your pocket. Today, Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube mobile live make up the core group of live streaming services.
In the short span since mobile live streaming video has been on the scene, Twitter has signed a deal to broadcast live NFL games, Facebook broadcast a North American Women’s Soccer League game to 554,000 unique viewers (for reference, a National Hockey League playoff game had 413,000 average viewers on the same day), and YouTube brought 21 million viewers to Coachella with 360-degree live video. On top of these impressive numbers, Facebook is shelling out $50 million to publishers and celebrities to create live content for their platform.
The technology is obviously a boon for publishers. They can get unprecedented numbers of viewers to watch events and broadcasts that would never reach as many people on broadcast television. Part of the reason for this is that publishers can deliver live video straight into viewers’ pockets, no matter where they are. We know, though, that for something to truly succeed on mobile, or online in general, it must be good for both the publisher and the advertising companies.
Twitter is using live events with natural breaks built in, like traditional television does. When they broadcast their NFL games, expect those live streams to look a lot like television broadcasts. Twitter said earlier this month that 60 percent of their ad inventory for those streams has been sold. On the Facebook side, many reports have the social network telling publishers that in-stream ad options are on their way. Any advertising in a Facebook video would be a first, but could provide a great source of revenue to publishers of all sizes. For YouTube, monetizing videos is something they’ve been doing for years. Individuals with organic followings can make millions. For instance, Felix Kjellberg, perhaps best known as Pewdiepie, was able to make $12 million off of 46 million followers as they visited his video site last year. Now imagine what an established publisher or celebrity could do with live video of major events or announcements. The imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to foresee high revenue numbers as publishers start offering these new streaming services.
Live streaming on mobile is still evolving, but it’s already clear to see that it’s a promising source of income. As publishers continue to look for more avenues to make money online, the potential for generating millions of viewers for a single event makes video an exciting and rewarding option.