Head of Strategy Insight: Live streaming and content marketing
In Castleford’s 2019 predictions blog post, I made the following prediction about live streaming:
Live streaming will become one of the most hotly contested advertising platforms.
Live streaming had an extremely successful 2018. Twitch (the most popular platform) saw its top earner make more than US$500k per month – and the gap is quickly closing on YouTube’s top earner who makes more than US$1m per month. Marketers will want to consider using live stream advertising platforms, as their viewers are highly specific. For example, if a streamer plays a video game that’s typically targeted at 15-18 year olds, it becomes a highly useful platform for a company targeting that demographic.
This insight article will take a deeper dive into live streaming and what impact it will have on content marketing strategies in the future.
Live streaming is taking off
Live streaming has become one of the most popular platforms for content creators in recent years. People can now watch streamers do almost anything – from playing games to having a nice restaurant dinner.
Content creators have realised that by creating live content, they are able to monetise both while they are streaming, and by editing highlights for upload to YouTube. It’s much more lucrative than the traditional method of filming content purely for YouTube.
As I mentioned in my prediction, the number one streamer (Ninja) is closing the gap to the number one YouTube earner (PewDiePie). Ninja’s numbers are solely what he reportedly makes through Twitch alone. This does not consider his YouTube earnings, which will close this gap even further.
The major players
There are two major live streaming platforms – Twitch and YouTube – with many smaller ones trying to break through..
Twitch primarily focuses on gamers streaming their games, while YouTube is a bit more generic. Both services stream pretty much anything that isn’t illegal. And both allow content creators to monetise their streams through premium subscriptions and advertising.
In terms of how all of this relates to content marketing, the advertising element is the key we will explore later on.
Like most advertising platforms, you are able to target your ads to audiences you specify. Given many live streams are special interest and cover a niche, you are able to formulate hyper-targeted audiences.
An example of this would be if you sold computer games – car racing games to be specific. You would find people streaming other racing games, and place your ad content on those streams.
You are now showcasing your racing game to the exact people who are interesting in racing games.
What makes this better than audiences you can create on a platform like Facebook is the live streaming audience are engaged. They are actively watching with interest rather than having a passing interest that would be typical of liking a Facebook page or group.
Where does content marketing come into play?
Identifying the audiences is easy. What’s harder, is advertising to your audience effectively.
This is where you need strong content marketing fundamentals.
The first step is deciding what content you want this audience to see. The most common type of advertising found on streaming platforms is traditional video ads – just like TV ads.
In the digital age, this isn’t always going to be effective. If you were watching a live stream and saw a 30 second ad start playing, you might simply mute the stream, and open a new tab to do something else while it plays.
This is obviously not effective.
What you really want here is an action. Ideally, you would link to a landing page that will allow you to capture a lead or generate a sale. Some streaming platforms don’t allow URLs. In these cases you can add URLs to the video you are advertising.
Clickable links on these ads have started to become more prominent. In the example below, you can see a link embedded in the video. Limitations on how you can go about adding these links will vary by platform.
So what do you link to? That’s the million dollar question that every content marketer would love to know.
It comes down to what you’re trying to get out of your marketing campaign.
If you want to drive bottom-of-funnel activity (like sales), the example shown above is great. You are showcasing your product or service through the ad, and then directing viewers to a specific action (order now).
If you are trying to generate top-of-funnel activity, you can’t go in for the hard sell. You need to offer something of value and entice the viewer to click through. An example would be a high-value downloadable like a guide or eBook on a relevant topic.
Of course, a top-of funnel lead require a lot more work once you have it. Ultimately, you want them buying your product or service, so you need a solid lead nurture strategy in place.
The final point to discuss is timing. Many events in the live streaming world draw thousands of viewers on very short notice.
While the random, viral streams are hard to predict, planned events can be taken advantage of.
Many of these events aren’t well publicised. If you put effort into your research and create a calendar, you can time your marketing around these events.
Right now might not be the best time for live streaming to be a marketing consideration for you. Many companies would not benefit from it at all. But it’s certainly worth thinking about how it could possibly work for you now or in the future. The best chance of success is to be an early adopter, and live streaming platforms are rising fast.