How live will change the world and why brands must embrace the ‘no safety net’

#CultHosts an evening all about how live can change the world

The concept of live is becoming more and more a part of our digital consumption. From Trump’s presidential speeches, to #Drummondpuddlewatch and the Lad Bible’s iconic streaming of ice cream melting, the content on offer is varied, bold and not averse from risk. In the post truth world, live could bring consumers closer to brands through democratised live content which has not been planned or edited in any way whatsoever.

Cult LDN brought together a panel of industry experts from Edition (Vice Media), House of Holland, Airbnb and Facebook at the Protein Studios as part of their #CultHosts series, to discuss how brands should be embracing live to further engage consumers, what can go right, and also, what can go wrong.

Ian Crocombe, global head of creative at Facebook, commented on the creative ways that brands and advertisers could be utilising live. “There are so many opportunities for brands to use innovative ways to engage with consumers. For brands, there must be a point to activating a campaign via Facebook or Instagram, there must be some importance and purpose to their content.

“The most memorable use of live for me was when Cancer Research campaigned during a real life colonoscopy on Channel 4 to raise awareness of the impact of funding research. The risks here were obvious, yet the fact Cancer Research were bold enough to do this shows their transparency and their responsibility in raising awareness about the charity and what they do with the money raised.”

Jack Guppy, head of digital at Vice’s Edition spoke about live in the context of the music world. “Live has brought the performance to fans’ living rooms. The interaction between artists and their fan bases has completely shifted.” For example, being able to live stream Beiber’s performance brings him closer to the Beliebers who were unable to get tickets. The use of live for bands who are a little younger and looking for exposure is also invaluable. These invaluable experiences can be translated across industries such as food and drink, travel, charities and of course media publications.

That’s not to say that live is for all brands. Of course, when undertaking a live stream, there is that element of uncertainty as anything could happen. This is particularly ominous after shocking events last summer when a girl live streamed her boyfriend being shot by the police after being pulled over in the car.

Sophie de Kepper at Airbnb describes live as a marketing tool with “no safety net. With live you must embrace the risks and take into account the environment and the people around you. People are craving something human and natural.”

Emmeli Kimhi, head of digital at House of Holland talks about the monetisation of live, particularly in fashion. “There is a place for live in fashion, but this doesn’t make it any less daunting. The fact that anything can happen, as well as having little budget is quite scary for brands. However, the industry itself must embrace it as an advertising tool, for example, swipe up to see the inspo for this look.”

Unlike social’s counterparts, live streaming is not easy to measure. It is difficult to engage how long people have been watching the stream for compared to measuring engagement on Facebook with likes or reactions.

Despite this lack of innovation in measuring the impact of live, it should definitely be on the radar for brands this year. Crocombe commented: “If you have a good internet connection, then live is a democratiser. There will be a shift in the 'echo chamber' that is our social streams by publishing live, unedited raw content for consumers.”

Periscope, Facebook, Instagram stories and Snapchat stories are channeling real content to the real world. Watch this space.

Cult LDN are a creative digital communications agency working with clients such as Agent Provocateur, Rimmel and Barbour. The next #CultHosts event will be taking place on May 3rd. Check here for more details.

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