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Periscope and Meerkat make live streaming a social event

Two new video apps are going head to head in a bid to take live video streaming social, with the more adventurous fashion brands seeking to tap into their potential.

The rise of apps like Periscope and Meerkat comes as a natural extension of the increased demand from consumers for video and instant information.

Fashion brands such as Burberry, Hunter and Topshop already live stream catwalk shows from web-based platforms, but these two apps now enable users to stream brands’ live content, comment on the stream, see how many other viewers are watching alongside them and either ‘like’ the material on Meerkat or ‘heart’ it on Periscope. While Periscope saves broadcasts for 24 hours, Meerkat streams are not saved.

Meerkat - previously called Air and before that Yevvo - launched in the US in 2012. It was relaunched in its current form in February and last month secured $14m (£9.4m) of funding from venture capitalists. Periscope launched last year and was bought by Twitter in January in a deal said to be worth around $100m (£67.4m).

However, with Twitter now restricting elements of the Meerkat app - such as the ability for users to see which of their followers are also using it- to protect its investment, Periscope seems to be gaining an edge.

Brands that have already embraced the apps include DKNY, which streamed a behind-the-scenes walk-through of the collection at its head office, Urban Outfitters, which showed one of its UO Live music events, and Adidas, which streamed the live signing of a sponsorship contract with Real Madrid footballer James Rodríguez.

But ecommerce and video specialists warn brands to be cautious about the latest social media trend.

James Doyan, managing director of London ecommerce consultancy Athito, says that while they present an opportunity to release content to demonstrate the newness of ranges and trends, their use needs to be carefully controlled to avoid live slip-ups that could damage brands.

“The turnaround for launching product on the web was around 10 to 14 days, but fast fashion players are now on a 20-hour turnaround. If you don’t want to wait 20 hours, as you think you have an absolutely winning line, when it comes in you can have a model there to wear it and capture that, saying [in the live stream] that this will be online shortly.

“If you do it as part of a planned social media strategy, I can see the benefit of it. But it has to be highly managed and curated [by the social media team]; you can’t just do it on the hoof.” He adds that the apps are currently quite data-heavy, so retailers should keep streams short.

In three to five years, Doyan says the potential could be to buy from these streams, making transactions instant: “That’s where it needs to get to from a retail and brand perspective.”
Sjors Bos, general manager for digital video firm I Heart Studios, says: “There is a strong need to manage your identity and messaging, but you don’t to have this on live video streaming. You have to think about how you manage your brand real-time and accept that you can’t edit it; it’s out there already.”

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