Marketers see Periscope as Twitter’s glimmer of hope

Twitter’s disappointing revenue forecast last week is emblematic of its growing struggles, but Periscope could be the floundering social media giant’s turnaround ticket.

With live videos of exploding watermelons and IHOP pancakes chilling at the beach taking over our Facebook feeds over the past few months, you’d think that Periscope has become an afterthought for advertisers. But don’t be quick to discount Periscope just as yet. JPMorgan Chase and Wingstop live streamed on the platform just this week, along with Anheuser-Busch, Verizon, Sony and Nestlé, which all recently bought Periscope’s NFL packages.

“Live, topical, real-time content still works best on Twitter and, by extension, Periscope,” said Lindsay Sutton, group director of social strategy at DigitasLBi U.S. “There is no denying that the Twitter is the best microphone there is, especially with its targeting and autoplaying capabilities.”

Twitter, like Facebook and others, is betting on live video. A Periscope button on the Twitter mobile app lets users stream directly from it instead of having to open up Periscope. It also introduced three new features including replay highlights, tweet embeds and live autoplay just last month.

It seems to be working. A number of brands, including JPMorgan Chase, have also recently chosen the platform over Facebook Live. The bank Periscoped CEO Jamie Dimon’s annual bus tour from California on Periscope. Viewers saw Dimon and other executives engage with thousands of employees and clients through activities like cookouts, town halls and branch visits. The idea was to effectively communicate and engage with thousands of employees across different locations in one place, said Patricia Wexler, chief communications officer at Chase.

It’s not hard to understand why some brands would opt for Periscope over Facebook, said Adam Broitman, managing partner at MEC. “There’s so much going on on Facebook that without ample investment, people just end up missing live videos,” he said. “You have to pay for visibility on Facebook, so economics are a factor. While putting money behind your Periscope live streams is also encouraged on Twitter, it guarantees better organic engagement.”

Fast-food restaurant Wingstop is another brand that took the Periscope route, partnering with its agency, Barkley, to hack Periscope last week and host the first-ever live auction on the platform to celebrate National Chicken Wing Day. The brand asked users to bid for prizes by sending hearts, which they counted using a tracker on top of the broadcast. Through the experience, the brand said that it amassed over 830,000 hearts and increased its positive sentiment up to 80 percent from 68 percent — something it attributes to its huge audience on the platform.

“Periscope is a no-brainer for us, given that Twitter is where some of our most engaged fans are,” said Flynn Dekker, CMO of Wingstop. “It seemed like the right place to start.”

Periscope is not only for brands looking to achieve lofty organic engagement goals with minimal investment. It is also a bright spot in Twitter’s revenue and its quest to grow and get a larger share of brands’ ad dollars. Twitter’s user base is growing at a snail’s pace compared to Facebook, and the company desperately needs more engagement from both users and advertisers. At the end of the second quarter, Twitter had only 313 million users and $602 million in quarterly revenues, compared to Facebook’s 1.7 billion users and $6.4 billion in quarterly revenues.

Twitter is betting on live streaming and other video products to overcome these challenges. Chief operating officer Adam Bain said that the company was focused on developing more products and features to gain more of a share of the $10 billion online video marketplace in the U.S., in its second-quarter earnings call. It has also inked several deals for broadcasting live professional content, from sports to politics, opening up advertising opportunities for brands including Anheuser-Busch, Verizon, Sony and Nestlé.

Facebook isn’t far behind either, with the news of it testing mid-roll video ads on Facebook Live breaking this week. But with the rise and widespread popularity of live streaming everywhere, it may not be a bloodbath.

“The trend of live streaming in general is picking up speed,” said Sutton. “And there isn’t going to a clear winner just as yet.”

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