Adrenaline Garage Blog

Do I need an iPhone strategy for my webcast?

Posted by Jeff Harper on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 @ 00:10 AM

In case you haven't noticed, the iPhone is hot.  Almost as hot are other mobile devices like Android phones and tablets, iPads and iPods, which begs a good question:

Since everyone (or 35% of us, but who's counting?) now has a mobile device, do I need to invest in a mobile device strategy for my live webcast?

Technology is a tool, not a solution

Before I answer that question, I want to take a step back.  I believe that technology is a tool. Tools are not always universally suitable.  A hammer isn't very useful when you need a saw. Likewise, some technologies might be required in one situation, but are useless in another. Before one considers whether they need to include a technology in their live online broadcast strategy, they should first ask, what am I trying to achieve?

iPhones can do live streaming, but is it worth it?

As I've stated before, we believe that in order to generate the most value from your webcast, you need to focus on maximizing the total number of minutes that viewers watch your live broadcast.  The more minutes viewers watch, the more impressions the webcast generates and the more value your broadcast has to advertisers and sponsors.  

Moreover, at Adrenaline Garage, we know that every event has a limited budget.  Therefore we recommend that events invest in strategies that will deliver the greatest ROI.  In this case, that means choosing options that generates the most minutes for the smallest investment.

So let's rephrase the question.  Will investing in a mobile device strategy increase the number of minutes that viewers watch my live online broadcast?  And secondly, with all the great things Adrenaline Garage is working on, does that strategy deliver the best ROI?

The answer to the first question is "Yes."  However, it might surprise you to discover that a mobile device strategy comes in dead last on our list of the Top Ten Things You Can Do Now to Get Better Results From Your Live Webcast.  Why?

The experience matters, not the technology

One of Steve Jobs' greatest insights, in my opinion, is that the end user cares more about the experience than they do about buzz words, technologies and specs.  When we talk about an iPhone strategy, what we really ought to be talking about is experiencing your event on a small screen vs. a mid-size (computer monitor) or large (TV) screen.  The fact is, watching a 3-hour event on a 3-inch screen is not a very good experience.  As a result, not a lot of people are willing to do it, no matter how much your viewers love their mobile devices.  And the numbers (and minutes watched) reflect this.

But don't take our word for it.  It turns out that other people have noticed that as content gets longer, the viewer prefers larger and larger screens.  Why?  I think it's because sitting on a couch is the most comfortable way to watch 45 minutes of video.

Take a look at this infographic.  Yes, yes, more and more people are watching video.  Yes, yes, they are using lots of different devices.  But let's consider the question at hand, does investing in the small screen experience deliver the best ROI?

People prefer larger screens for longer form content

Our numbers indicate that our viewers' behavior nicely parallels Netflix's viewers.  That is not surprising since live webcasts and Netflix are different types of long form content.  In fact, our average viewing time (AVT) is very similar.  The most interesting thing about this graphic is the consumption by device.  As we stated, the longer the video format, the larger the share for the larger screens.  In fact, while mobile phones and tablets represent relatively small share of YouTube viewers, they represent an even smaller share of longer form video viewers.  Like with Netflix, in our events, mobile devices represent only 2-3% of viewers.

[By the way, did you notice that longer form content represents more value than short form content in terms of traffic share (a close proxy for minutes) even while representing a smaller share of viewers?  But that's a topic for another blog post.]

Taking this one step further

This infographic hints at something else that we've noticed, which is the inverse of what we stated above.  Not only do viewers prefer larger screens for longer content, larger screens tend to encourage greater engagement on their own!  In fact, we've seen that the most engaged viewers of live webcasts tend to be the viewers watching the event on the largest screens.  While it's hard to make a direct cause and effect relationship, it would follow that you would create more value for your live broadcast by encouraging viewers to watch on larger screens rather than smaller ones.

Considering that such a small percentage of viewers use mobile devices to watch long form content, and large screen viewers are more valuable than small screen viewers, we conclude that while having a mobile device strategy would add value, it does not deliver the same ROI as investing in large screens.  

What can you do to enhance your large screen strategy?  That's a topic for another blog post. Or, if you can't wait, give us a call.

What do you think?  What's more valuable for your events, a small screen or large screen strategy?

Topics: Webcast Tips, Webcast Sponsorship, Live Webcast Solutions