Let audiences take over your livestream
From Hovercast's CEO, Eli Stonberg, comes an explainer on how brands have an opportunity to elevate livestreaming into a more meaningful collaboration with their audience.
Before the pandemic, most brand-sponsored livestreams weren’t really thinking beyond “How can we uniquely integrate our logo into a game streamer’s broadcast?”
During the early stages of the pandemic, the question then became, “How can we turn our broadcast into an inviting, visually-pleasing Zoom?” Now that the value of livestreaming—from its global reach, massive engagement potential, and entertainment value—has been recognized, brands will be looking to take it a step further.
Interactive livestreams offer a real chance for brands to innovate and come up with fun, first-of-its-kind, gamified scenarios. Using graphical widgets like polls, meters, and featuring chat on-screen, show producers can invite the audience to be a significant part of the show.
And audiences will love it.
Because this new format rewards them for playing along and contributing useful content, it will become more valuable to brands. Brands get value because this user-generated content (UGC) makes their shows better and allows them to gather important insights about their audience. For instance, with interactive polling, brands can essentially conduct a live survey among their audience (often thousands of participants, all at once) and ask them questions that ultimately benefit the brand’s goals. This kind of immediate data can prove invaluable to the brand.
Brands that lean into leveraging chat in their broadcasts, instead of ignoring it, will be the winners of this next gen format, co-creating the future.
In the past, some savvy brands have leveraged livestreaming to tap into the innovative ways that the format allows viewers to interact. Take KFC, for example, who built a “Colonel Sanders Cat Climber” and prompted viewers to control various aspects of the livestream, including releasing cats into the arena and even naming said cats. Or Wave XR, which produced a dazzling, visually spectacular virtual concert of The Weeknd performing in a motion-capture suit while audience members’ chat handles and comments floated around him. Old Spice launched Nature Adventure, the first large-scale branded livestream execution on Twitch, which enabled viewers to control a man’s life over the course of three days. Nature Adventure also happened to be the first livestream to use an early version of Hovercast, an interactive livestreaming and virtual events platform.
The inception of the interactive live streaming platform Hovercast was inspired by a desire to create meaningful engagement in a two-way conversation between a live show and its audience. Jeff Greco and I founded the company in late 2018 as an interactive graphics toolset that brands used on Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube (among other platforms) in order to engage their audiences more. Creators and brands can easily elevate their live streams and seamlessly combine social media, broadcast TV, and gaming into one cohesive format.
Interactive branded livestreams allow for a more ‘lean in’ experience that invites viewers to engage with the brand, rather than just passively watch
Hovercast recently partnered with creative production partner Tool of North America to focus on bringing this platform to the advertising industry and creating the next wave of interactive, live-stream events and shows.
But how do livestreaming services really benefit brands? Interactive livestreams allow brands to go well beyond these use cases, beyond simply sponsoring a streamer’s page, and into something truly reactionary, participatory, and longer-form (on a global scale, no less). Old Spice Nature Adventure, for example, was essentially a 30-hour commercial that managed to keep its audience hooked with a constant promise of control and interactivity. The livestream concept took it from an ad to a fully branded, long-form experience.
However, brands don’t have to ‘go big’ or complex with a livestream, you just have to understand the goals and work backwards towards those goals (i.e. engagement, raising money, drawing a wider audience, polling and gathering information, etc.) in a fun way that rewards the audience.
Creators and brands can easily elevate their live streams and seamlessly combine social media, broadcast TV, and gaming into one cohesive format.
Interactive branded livestreams allow for a more ‘lean in’ experience that invites viewers to engage with the brand, rather than just passively watch, ultimately making for a significant ROI difference when compared to traditional broadcast ads. Interactive live streams also have an inherently ephemeral “You had to be there”-ness to them. The event happens in one specific live moment before it quickly becomes old news. If enough hype is built before the event, brands can essentially create a moment among their audience.
Interactive livestreams offer a real chance for brands to innovate and come up with fun, first-of-its-kind, gamified scenarios.
I also believe that the concept of “It’s a _____ stream controlled by you” has infinite possibilities and will produce some amazing new iterations over the next few years. This format is different from live TV because chat lives right beside the video and is a key part of the viewing experience. Looking ahead, those brands that lean into leveraging the chat in their broadcasts, instead of ignoring it, will be the winners of this next gen format, co-creating the future with their audience.
With unpredictable times facing the industry, it is time more than ever for brands to revisit or revamp their livestreaming capabilities and invest in the ongoing possibilities of a hybrid world.