Brandlive Enhances its Live Video Platform

Brandlive, provider of a multichannel live video platform, today bolstered its offering with features that are designed to help companies extend their broadcasts on social media channels, better target their audiences, and improve mobile viewing experiences.

It's no secret that  live video streaming is quickly growing as a medium through which businesses can enhance relationships with their customers. But, according to Brent Hieggelke, head of marketing at Brandlive, the tools offered by Facebook and YouTube are rudimentary and not built to handle use cases that are strategic in nature. Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Meerkat "are effectively social media tools where brands are trying to engage their social audience, and they're pretty lightweight," Hieggelke explains. A company might leverage thse to stream a brief video interview with a celebrity, or event coverage, for instance. However, "Brandlive was built for much more intentional live video experiences," Hieggelke says. "Routinely, we see customers doing hourlong live video sessions, and these are not quick little social media props. These are highly engaging product demonstrations, and if you think about that, the audience that tunes in and sits through an hourlong demonstration and asks questions of the presenter—those are much more seriously engaged customers. Those are people that are down the funnel, ready to purchase, ready to be a brand advocate."

To accommodate such intentions, Brandlive's platform is built around three central components: live video, e-commerce, and merchandising capabilities. "Underneath the live video player, there's a complete merchandising module where brands can put in product details, videos, photos, and e-commerce integrations," including "Buy Now buttons," Hieggelke says.

But as companies have grown to become more invested in live streaming, they have started requesting heightened functionality and support, Hieggelke says. In addition to integrations which support broadcasts on YouTube and Facebook, Brandlive's platform has been upgraded with several other features. These include the ability to import customer data from pre-existing enterprise technologies—including CRM or learning management systems—in order to segment and manage audiences. End users can assign video-based modules to specific audiences who have registered for live events on the platform and then track them according to custom filters, either as groups or individuals. Rather than sending notifications to each customer who has liked a brand's Facebook page, for instance, the technology will learn about their preferences to keep them informed about the events they'll most likely be interested in moving forward. The event registration fields can also be customized to better gauge viewer preferences, enabling businesses to set dropdown menus, checkboxes, or text content inputs. Companies can craft branded emails to send out to entire audience segments while inserting customized links into the body. These additions "really allow you to start treating customers just like we've been doing in other channels, where you're segmenting and targeting them with relevant experiences," Hieggelke says.

The platform has also been upgraded to enable improved mobile and social engagement. Viewers can sign in on a company's mobile application to get a more tailored experience; for instance, these users can submit pictures directly from their cameras or libraries into a live chat stream.

One of the big issues when you're using Facebook Live, or another channel, Hieggelke points out, is that ultimately it means renting an audience. "They're Facebook’s customers, and, yeah, they might be engaged with your brand somewhat on Facebook, but you don't have a direct access that you can rely on, and so you're a bit of a subject to whatever Facebook decides to do with their algorithms. Right now, Facebook is promoting Live, so they're giving it a lot of juice in the algorithm, but as we've seen with other things, Facebook will eventually be excited about some other feature, and if you build a live video program on Facebook, they can change the rules, and so it's very dangerous for brands to put all of their eggs in that basket."

Brandlive currently has an estimated 150 customers, including REI, GoPro, Pottery Barn, Levi Strauss, and Rockwell Tools. And, "our vision is to be a multichannel broadcaster," Hieggelke says. "We want our customers to continue to have one great live video experience, and have that experience show up in as many places as they're audience lives. So we'll continue to look at the channels our customers have audience and they want to engage with."

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