Is It Live, or Is It an Infomercial?

The Potential for Livestreaming to Revolutionize Content and E-commerce

By Josch Chodakowsky

The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantines that followed quickly changed the way brands could sell and show off their products, fostering a need for marketers to get inventive with their tactics. The online space also evolved during this time, becoming increasingly dominant and the perfect place to welcome creativity beyond banner ads, video, and social posts. Enter livestreaming, a tactic already well established by gamers and other communities as a way to connect with one another in real-time.

What better way for marketers to connect with consumers with so many traditional methods inaccessible for the foreseeable future?

Similar to a television informercial or home shopping network, livestreaming offers all of the benefits of those models but cuts out production costs and call-center intermediaries. While brand livestreaming is mainly centered in Asia at the moment, there is a huge opportunity and an eager audience ready for marketers to connect with everywhere else. Read on for more information about the livestreaming trend, how to do it, and what other brands have done in this space.

Check out the resources below.

It's Showtime! How Live Commerce Is Transforming the Shopping Experience. McKinsey, July 2021.
Live commerce combines instant purchasing of a featured product and audience participation through a chat function or reaction buttons. In China, live commerce has transformed the retail industry and established itself as a major sales channel in less than five years. In a 2020 survey, two-thirds of Chinese consumers said they had bought products via livestream in the past year.

While retailers overall in the West are still behind China in the pursuit of live commerce, early movers are also starting to rack up significant sales. How exactly this new channel will develop remains to be seen. What is clear is that it holds enormous long-term potential for brands and e-commerce platforms alike. If China's experience is any guide, McKinsey analysis indicates that live-commerce-initiated sales could account for as much as 10 to 20 percent of all e-commerce by 2026.

The Rise of Livestreaming for E-Commerce. Total Retail, October 2020
Livestreaming may sound similar to what TV shopping was like in the 1980s; although with online livestreaming, retailers are spared heavy airtime and production costs, and instead can use existing social channels. While brands may initially feel vulnerable exposing themselves to a live audience, livestreaming makes the experience feel more natural and real to customers. Livestreaming for e-commerce can also help fill the social aspect that's missing in regular online shopping by increasing interaction between the customer and seller. This article investigates the trend further to explain how, and why, demand for live video streaming is growing exponentially, and how those who are new to the space can get on board.

4 Innovative Ways Brands are Using Livestreaming. Sprout, October 2020
For many companies, it's hard to come up with alternatives to in-person events that are as effective for marketing. It's tough to replace the human connection and excitement that naturally comes with meeting people in real life. Live video is quite possibly as close as you can get, and has proven to be a highly engaging and effective solution to scaling events, drumming up excitement, and delivering a message. This post from Sprout looks at four innovative ways brands have leveraged livestreaming to replace in-person events.

Livestream Shopping: How Brands Can Harness this Latest Phenomenon. We are Social, October 2020
Livestream shopping has proven to be an invaluable bridge across the gap between goods suppliers and consumers during the peak of lockdown caused by COVID-19. With content fronted by an influencer – often a celebrity – promoting a product, it might seem like the reinvention of the infomercial. However, livestream shopping is interactive: viewers can chat and click to buy. It's creative, too, with more emphasis on entertainment, engagement, and celebrity value, and less on hard sell. It's currently most established in Asia (almost a third of internet users in China have purchased goods via live broadcasts). Here We are Social analyzes those most effectively using livestream shopping in China to provide important lessons for brands considering using it elsewhere.

Facebook Livestreaming 101. Digital Marketing Institute, October 2020
Earlier in 2020, Facebook revealed that at least 20 percent of videos posted to Facebook are livestreamed. And major media organizations like are investing heavily in video and livestream technology, building studios, and creating a catalog of bespoke shows to target their buyer personas. If Facebook's bet on live pays off, streaming will become a necessity for brands who want to compete in the digital area. This piece shares some tips to get you started.

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Josch Chodakowsky is a senior manager of research and innovation at ANA.

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