The key to maximizing success (and limiting risk) is for marketers to better understand how their audiovisual team works.
It is almost event day. You are excited, but you are also stressed.
You have spent the last few months preparing for your live stream: that big product launch, quarterly Town Hall, or video conference that your boss needs to go well. Your marketing and communications teams have been working hard, and everything appears ready.
The event begins, and something goes wrong. There is delayed audio, buffering video, feedback delays, or bandwidth problems. Viewers start to drop off. Your hard work to deliver high-quality content to your desired audience suddenly feels like wasted time. Maybe in your frustration, you are pointing the finger at your AV team—while they are pointing fingers back at you.
Perfection isn’t always possible in video live streaming, especially for global organizations. Stream failure is common, and it can produce some pretty negative consequences. Your organization can receive negative press, brand damage, lost revenue, and sunken investment. Audiences could lose interest or be upset, and you better believe you will be hearing from your executives and bosses. Especially in uncertain economic times, these downsides are even more severe.
Viewers won’t tolerate a poor experience. More than half of viewers would abandon a poor-quality stream in 90 seconds or less, and 44% of viewers say that video rebuffering is their most common frustration. If your video is blocky, slow, or lagging—say goodbye to your audience.
There are plenty of reasons why your viewer experience wasn’t optimal. Perhaps your source files were too large to playout on the fly, the internet connection in your event space wasn’t adequate, or your content wasn’t optimized for multiple viewer formats. Both marketing and AV can be at fault.
No matter the reason, it is comforting to know that with proper preparation and communication, you can minimize risk—and maximize your chances of success—for your next live streaming event. There is no silver bullet for video streaming, but a foundation of trust and a shared understanding of goals between marketing and AV teams is a fantastic start.
Here are four strategies to maximize success for your next video live stream event:
Adjust your production to optimize the viewer experience. Oftentimes, marketing teams primarily focus on the style of content they are producing. After they have decided that, they will tackle the task of distributing that content.
In many ways, this is backward. Because the end goal of every live stream event is to deliver a quality viewer experience, you first have to ask yourself, how are the majority of viewers consuming this content?
You might have the equipment and expertise to shoot in stunning 4K. That’s phenomenal—but only if it drives more viewership and better engagement. If your viewers don’t have devices that support that format—or 4K content doesn’t increase viewer metrics—it’s not worth the extra time and money to produce such large files.
Will your CEO need several slides to illustrate her points? Your AV team might consider streaming in 1080p instead of 720p, and use a higher bitrate so that viewers on mobile devices can read the words.
Huddle with your AV team before you even begin to produce content for your live stream. That will ensure that a) your vision can be executed and b) viewers will have the best experience.
Use prerecorded content to your advantage. I will let you in on a little secret: Your live event doesn't have to be fully live. In most case, your viewers won't be able to to tell.
As you know, event day is incredibly stressful. You and the AV team are worried about filming live segments, and you are also concerned with processing and encoding those segments to be broadcasted to your audience. Wouldn’t it be better if you removed some of that uncertainty?
Prerecorded content is already preprocessed and preencoded into a video on demand (VOD), making it easy to incorporate into a live broadcast. The prerecorded VOD is optimized for quality, not speed and can be scheduled to play “as Live” for viewers because it’s coming directly from the cloud. It’s a shortcut to win the battle between reliability and interactivity.
When they are off-camera, talent can interact and chat with the audience real-time. Once the live feed returns, your CEO, other executive, or host will be armed with questions, insights, and ideas from the online audience. Additionally, you will be able to generate high-quality and accurate captions beforehand, meaning you don’t have to rely on a translator or on-the-fly artificial intelligence captioning.
Whenever you have an opportunity to prerecord, preprocess, preencode, and precaption your content, it will benefit you and the AV team.
Afford extra time—and the right environment—for AV testing. Time is the greatest gift you can give to your AV team. Of course, your marketing team is under pressure with deadlines, too—so it about finding balance.
Too often, AV teams are only afforded one or two days to prepare for a major conference or product launch. This rush job increases the risk of errors, which impacts your entire company. When things are sprung on the event team, or conditions change between tests, you’re not maximizing your chances of success.
Try to give 1-2 weeks of preparation time. Book your event space in advance for a practice run that tests both network and production conditions—rather than trying to mimic the conditions elsewhere. If the space isn’t available, try to provide an environment where the event conditions can be replicated. Even if your content isn’t fully complete, you are still giving AV a chance to get comfortable with the live stream requirements.
Learn from postevent analytics. Bosses love reports because these convenient summaries show off return on investment and help quantify success or failure.
Generating a report is one thing, but the most important part of reporting is what you do after the fact. Know how to contextualize the metrics you are seeing. Some important questions to answer are:
- What day of the week do I see the most viewers? What time of day?
- What stream qualities were consumed the most by the audience? 720p? 1080p? 4K?
- Could the intended audience access the content?
- Did something go wrong? If so, was it preventable? Can we add contingencies next time to prevent this?
By understanding these metrics, you can provide insights you can act on. Making measured changes based on your viewer metrics is a great way to make sure you are constantly improving the viewer experience.
About James Broberg
James Broberg is the founder and CEO of StreamShark, an end-to-end live and on-demand video streaming platform.