Periscope looks for a place in content marketing strategy

Brands such as GE, Taco Bell and Costa are using Periscope for their content marketing. But is this the right time to use the platform, asks James Quilter.

Mobile apps Periscope and Meerkat may have bubbled up in your conscience in the past few weeks. They are the hottest examples of tech advances that allow consumers to view content on the go and to broadcast it too. And all from their mobiles.

Periscope gives brands a new avenue for content. It is making waves all over the digital world but many companies are probably wondering whether it is mature enough and has enough reach to provide a return on investment. Also, as most of this video is unavailable once it is broadcast, it appears to fly in the face of the accepted strategy that you should aim for evergreen content.

Still, adventurous marketers have already shown they are attracted by the ability to produce instant disposable video. These include Taco Bell, DKNY and even Hillary Clinton, who announced her presidential bid on it.

One argument for Periscope was made when it was recently revealed that more online content was viewed through mobile devices than the desktop. Last month, Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer pointed out that 90% of the time spent on mobile devices is in apps. She added that 50% of that time is split between messaging and entertainment apps.

GE arguably came up with one of the best uses of the technology when it put together its #DroneWeek series. The company fitted a camera to a drone and flew it over various properties including facilities that were building jet engines, locomotives, wind turbines and other machinery located across the US.

Interviews and commentary from GE’s scientists and technologists accompanied the aerial shots through a separate Periscope account, @GEDronePilot. GE also increased interaction by asking its readership to vote on where the next fly-by should take place.

Other campaigns

At this month’s New York Fashion Show, around 70 of the brands used Periscope, including Tommy Hilfiger, Jeremy Scott and Carolina Herrera. Ralph Lauren estimated that about 10 million people had tuned into its stream. Content included pre-show events, backstage interviews, and models on the catwalk.

This month, Costa Coffee used Periscope to stream a “barista battle” to create the perfect flat white coffee, complete with Florette design. Viewers were asked to vote for the winner.

But possibly the best high-profile example use of Periscope came in June when Hillary Clinton held her first major campaign rally on New York’s Roosevelt Island. Since then a number of politicians, including Republican hopeful Donald Trump, have used it.

Examining the long-term value

Looking at the broad mix of distribution channels, where does Periscope fit in? It’s not a replacement for the sort of video that has so far built tons of audience because the loss in production values and lack of permanency mean it won’t look good on a brand’s YouTube channel. And in terms of long-term value from traffic, YouTube is still the best show in town. Despite the ascendancy of mobile, remember that nearly 50% of content is still viewed via the desktop.

Still, Periscope is an exciting development, a new way to capture audience and deliver engaging material. Being an early adopter will often make for less work in building audience. One thing to note though, for all of the originality of #Droneweek, it only pulled in around 6,500 viewers.

A quick look at the kind of content that is currently available on Periscope ­– mainly train journeys and teens gawping at the screen ­– shows it is clearly a good time to start producing innovative video and securing followers. And there is a big market out there. As Yahoo’s Mayer pointed out, there are 280 million “mobile addicts” in the world – users who interact with apps more than six times a day.

If brands are considering using Periscope, they should approach it in the same way as anything else. Find a good idea, execute it well and do it again, and again and again.


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