Big brands don't mind live Periscope stumbles to reach millennials

Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:11am EST
 
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By Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Benefit Cosmetics, a San Francisco-based maker of skin care and makeup, used Twitter's Periscope live-streaming video service to make a product demonstration, a heckler became part of the live show, typing to the presenter, "I can see down your top" even though there was no wardrobe malfunction.

During BMW of North America's (BMWG.DE: Quote) debut of its M2 coupe on Periscope last month, the sound dipped in and out as the driver talked about how the car handled. And one of Royal Caribbean International's RCL.N first video streams was disrupted by a viewer posting the alphabet one letter at a time, in an attempt to clog the comment feed. Still, the company was happy with the 30,000 viewers the campaign attracted, said Kara Wallace, the cruise operator's vice president, North American marketing.

While glitches like those would be unthinkable in a produced, controlled advertising environment, big brands such as Royal Caribbean, BMW and Benefit are going ahead with plans to use live-streaming video to attract some of the most finicky consumers, young millennials who ignore many traditional and online ads. "There is an authenticity to this kind of campaign," Wallace said. "This is going to be the future of marketing." Periscope, which Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) bought earlier this year, allows anyone to live-stream an event through a mobile phone, while viewers can participate by sending cartoon hearts across the video feed and typing comments that scroll across the screen for all to see. Some viewers love the chance to interact, with results that can surprise the advertisers. It is still early days for Periscope, which currently does not charge advertisers, and had 10 million accounts as of August, compared with more than 300 million at Twitter.

Some brands are not sure about using Periscope to market to consumers. Snack and beverage company Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ.O: Quote) has experimented with it a bit, but has not decided if it wants to make it a staple part of its marketing, said Cindy Chen, global head of e-commerce. "Periscope isn't really set up right now to accommodate brands," said Dustin Callif, managing director, digital at Tool North America, which produced the Royal Caribbean streams. "It's an experiment which is fun for a brand, but it is also risky."

WORKING ON THE FLY   Continued...

 
The New York skyline is seen in a distance as Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas enters New York harbour January 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz