GeoMarketing: Live, From In-Store: Ad Industry Deliberates The Value Of Meerkat, Periscope

In this piece from GeoMarketing, check out some of the opportunities and challenges for retailers thinking about Meerkat and Periscope, with insights from Mindshare's Joe Migliozzi and Diana Gordon.  "For both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers, any experience that creates more positive touch points with their customers is a bonus," says Migliozzi, Managing Director, NY Office Digital and Shop+ Lead, Mindshare NA. "The retail landscape is getting more competitive, and any means to connect with consumers in the pre-shop phase is welcomed."

By Nicole Spector

It’s still too early to tell whether Meerkat and Periscope will take off as platforms for any brand — let alone for brick-and-mortar retailers keen on driving in-store activity. But that doesn’t mean that retailers shouldn’t be keeping informed on the respective technologies and even becoming curious about potential campaigns to run on them. But at this point, what’s most important for marketers is to recognize what these platforms are and weigh the considerable risks they hold in their current incarnations.

“Both services feel closer to Snapchat than to Instagram,” says Rye Clifton, product director at ad agency GSD&M. “Where Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter live on forever, these streaming services keep a video around for 24 hours. You have a quick window to make a splash, then it is gone forever — until it is reposted, rebroadcast, and over-utilized to death by the brand.”

A Cousin Of Snapchat

This is an important distinction because Snapchat — while picking up steam as an advertising medium for retailers — is still way too new to be mentioned as a choice in the same breath as the social media trifecta, so to speak, that is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. So, how then to use this live video streaming that is sort of like Snapchat?

“I could see tuning in [to Meerkat or Periscope] for a new product preview before things are officially launched,” Clifton says, when asked how advertising could work on the medium. “The the goal here would be to give devoted fans (or hand-picked media) exclusive access to content that would hopefully take on a life of its own.”

In this sense the apps hold certain promise for brands and agencies with exciting footage to showcase. “I’m sure we’ll see something from GE soon that involves jet engine factories or something awesome. We’ll all want to watch, it won’t feel like advertising, and we’ll all leave understanding the company a little more. That’s where everyone can win.”

Get In On The Creative Challenge

Down the road, Meerkat and Periscope could provide brick-and-mortar retailers with strong opportunities to present compelling content to users. There could even be more success ahead for them than for ecommerce companies, says Joe Migliozzi, managing director, NY Office Digital and Shop+ Lead, Mindshare North America.

“There are significant advantages for a brick and mortar retailer versus an ecommerce retailer in using a live video streaming app,” says Migliozzi. “Retailers are continually increasing their investment in the in-store experience in order to make it a more enjoyable, efficient, and productive time for the consumer. This is critical because they want to keep the customer coming back and increase their time spent in the store. Live-streaming apps enable brick-and-mortar retailers to quickly tap into their large social followings at any moment to show the positive experience that they’ve created in store, which can include the latest in-store product demo or an exciting promotion that they’re running.”

That Periscope and Meerkat could evolve into a feasible platform for brick-and-mortar retailers to drive in-store experience should get marketers excited, but it may not spur them to action any time soon. The risks are still too big.

Risky Business

Meerkat and Periscope as a marketing platform is that fact that they are virtually lawless lands. Unpredictability is in their DNA; such is the nature of “live.” These are environments that invite risk, which is prohibitive for marketers concerned with brand-safety.

“There are brand-safety issues with live user-generated content,” says Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of video ad platform Jun Group. “Advertisers really don’t know what kinds of content their ads will be up against, and that can be a risk.”

The online company a retailers keeps is one thing, and pushing content in the presence of what, let’s face it, could be a bit sleazy, is a valid concern. But that’s not the only risk in going “live.” There are also technical malfunctions to consider — at least at this very early stage. As Diana Gordon, senior partner, group director, Search & Social, Mindshare North America points out, we’ve already seen a big fail in this department.

“Just ask Madonna,” Gordon says. “She recently teased and counted down the premiere of her new video on Meerkat only to have it launch with a dead page, offering no explanation to anticipating viewers.”

Now, a business with a couple brick-and-mortar locations is not exactly comparable to Madonna. A technical snafu like that will not be a mass devastation blown up in the public’s eye. But it will be embarrassing and it could weaken a marketer’s campaign. Marketers just have to use “trust and preparation,” Clifton advises because “when you’re broadcasting live footage, there are no retakes.”

Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates remains skeptical of the value Meerkat and Periscope hold for retailers. “This is definitely a wait-and-see opportunity,” Borrell says. “Let someone else jump in first and make the mistakes. I’m not as enthusiastic about the opportunities, but that’s only because I can’t see a valuable audience with specific characteristics that a marketer would necessarily want to reach. It was evident with Google from the outset because people would identify themselves by what they were searching (homes, cars, restaurants, etc.). It was evident with Facebook because people would enter profiles and then enhance their own targetability by connecting with other people (who also had profiles). But I’m not seeing it just yet with live-streaming video programs.”

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