In early 2020, Cloudinary was planning its fourth annual ImageCon conference, a two-day event in the heart of San Francisco, where we’d congregate with curious digital-media minds to brainstorm best practices for media management. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entirety of ImageCon 2020 online. As with all other events being planned, we had to overhaul the content to be communicated on video. Gratifyingly, we found the right partner—the event platform Bizzabo—to turn that into a reality.
ImageCon 2020 was a success, and, despite the venue change, the virtual format offered the attendees a great deal of value. Interestingly, during the registration phase as a lead-up to the conference, this question was frequently raised by the attendees: “Will the sessions be recorded and sent out later?”
Live-streaming video is a topic we covered in a previous post, and there’s clearly an appetite for it among consumers. According to a year-in-review report, State of the Stream, the number of hours of live video people have watched showed that the live-stream sector grew by 99% year over year. That’s an increase from 1.971 billion hours in April 2019 to 3.934 billion hours in April 2020, just one month into the pandemic lockdowns.
Nonetheless, if people can’t join in real time, they still want easy access of the content at a time that’s convenient for them. With that in mind, I’ll elaborate on the benefits of the on-demand element of live video, the natural next step after the conclusion of a live event.
The wonderful thing about live-stream video is how connected it makes us feel no matter the physical distance. We could be sitting on our couch at home but be instantly transported to that setting for in-person interactions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, musicians streamed acoustic sets from their backyard or living room; brands and influencers went live to showcase the latest trends; businesses held user conferences and team-building events; and religious communities joined worship services online. While all that was being live-streamed, a feeling of welcomed camaraderie with fellow viewers prevailed, amplified by the dialogue that occurred in the live chats.
But why even think about video on demand, or VOD, if live streaming is the hot trend? That’s because VOD contributes to business success in several unique ways, enabling you to connect with customers and grow your bottom line. Consider these benefits:
Post-event engagement: As stated in the ImageCon FAQ, not all registered participants view live videos as they are being broadcast. By packing up live videos and making them available after the fact, you provide the opportunity for continual engagement. Viewers can choose when and where to watch them, plus share the footage with family, friends, or colleagues. As well, emails notifying viewers of the on-demand feature deliver a specific call to action or urge for reengagement.
Content reuse: Previously live-streamed video makes for great content for reuse. Those who desire to learn about your company can flip through past recordings. You can also splice and dice footage and repurpose the clips as marketing material.
Monetization: Even though people love “free” stuff, they’re willing to pay for premium content that yields value. In fact, a study on live streaming found that 45% of live-video audiences would pay for VOD that features their favorite performer, speaker, or team. A scheme worth considering is to offer VOD to subscribers with ongoing access to past content or charge them per event.
Since you cannot replicate certain components of live video, “live” might be the preferred method of streaming. An in-the-moment, unedited, and authentic feel brings excitement and intrigue to live streams. Anything could happen! Still, you can do things with VOD that aren’t possible with live streams, such as the following:
You can automate the process of converting live videos—after they wrap up—to VOD for reuse or repurpose.
You can edit VOD to fix technical issues that arose during the live event. Examples are dead air during the live streaming due to dial-in problems encountered by a cohost or virtual guest, and connectivity issues caused by a dropped Wi-Fi signal. You might also like to edit out irrelevant or controversial questions during the Q&A session of the event. Or, as we’ve all come to laugh about through the onslaught of Zoom meetings in 2020, delete the common declaration, “Hey, you’re on mute.”
Post production, to extend the life of live video content, consider correcting sound glitches, such as someone’s microphone being dialed up more loudly than another person’s. Overlay translated audio over the footage or add subtitles to make the VOD accessible to those who speak different languages or prefer to watch it on mute. A Verizon study found that 69% of consumers view video with sound off in public places, and that 80% say that they’re more likely to watch videos in entirety if captions are available.
Benefits for VOD are endless, really. You can do the following and a host of other tasks:
- Summarize the event with a preview video clip.
- Add direct calls to action for viewers to encourage ongoing engagement.
- Auto-tag video clips in your database so you can easily cull those that would be ideal for another use case.
- Facilitate analytics to, for example, track user behavior.
Even with the pent-up demand for in-person events that couldn’t take place in 2020, live virtual events are and will continue to be important avenues for connecting with audiences. Business conferences will likely offer ongoing virtual alternatives, reserving exclusive content for in-person attendees and offering discounts to remote viewers.
Webinars, an easy and popular way to announce new products or present new research or case studies, readily connect with the audience without their having to physically congregate. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers assert that webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads. Fashion shows that highlight a new seasonal collection can live on through VOD, e.g., those held by Chanel have a home on the brand’s YouTube page. And we touched on gaming in the first post on live streaming: Facebook has now provided a platform for game creators to make VOD available to fans along with an option for monetizing those videos.
Above all, consider adding all your live video-streams to a library after the fact—either on your website or through a video or social-media platform—cementing them into a collection of content your audience can tap into.
Since I mentioned ImageCon 2020 at the start of this post, do check out that event’s VOD library, which offers 15 sessions on demand. Archived videos from ImageCon 2018 and ImageCon 2019 are also available for viewing. Finally, visit the ImageCon 2021 site, where you can see how we prominently direct people to the VOD for ImageCon 2021. You’ll then get an idea of the ImageCon format, especially if you’re new to Cloudinary.
An upcoming post will chronicle the intricacies and considerations for developers tasked with preparing live video for VOD. Separately, if you’d like to talk about how to transform videos and how to catch “live” lightning in a bottle as a marketing prop, give us a shout.