What Lies Ahead for Periscope - Monetisation (Part One).

With the recent issues from the fallout of the YouTube demonetisation drama; where talking about certain sensitive topics are discouraged by demonetising a Youtuber's channel. It made me think about the ramifications for Periscopers when it eventually happens to them. I wondered what it would be like if channels on Periscope were being demonetised.

Imagine saying something live that advertisers didn't agree with and they subsequently pulled adverts from your channel instantly. More lovely, juicy, delicious drama local to Periscope!

We know live video isn't the same as edited video. There is actually an extra level of safety for brand collaborations at least on pre-recorded videos (yes advertisers are bailing on YouTube because adverts have been seen against ISIS videos, but how many advertisers knew you could selectively apply who can see your adverts on certain types of content, not many it seems). The stuff managed by bots is a different story.

I'm imagining the outcry from a live-stream, and then witness how quickly the fallout would travel because of the simplicity of informing viewers via live-streams*. A Periscoper would have to be trusted with advertising (I hope), hence the slow rollout of an advertising program by Twitter.

I can see live-streamers changing to conform to the sensibilities of advertisers turning some scopers into daytime television if they haven't already. Maybe scopers will find themselves adhering to guidelines to make sure that happens. I'm also assuming a new approach from Twitter that takes into account more authentic metrics.

Who is Going to Qualify?

Currently only a few accounts can generate revenue from Twitter directly through working with Twitter's advertiser network, Amplify. Only in the US by the way, everybody else will have to wait. It's a first cautious step which harkens back YouTube's rollout (over many years). I'm fine with the pace of the rollout, Twitter should be cautious, because of the nature of instability with live-streaming.

My other thoughts drift to who would actually qualify, (after the celebs and Twitter verified users of course) and whether they are actually worth Amplify's attention (assuming Amplify will be the media handler).

It surprises me from the sentiment expressed in the Periscope slack group and on the platform, that a few scopers expect Periscope to do most of the monetisation work for them. Why is that when it takes less work and less talent to be popular on Periscope compared to YouTube? Don't forget the ease and accessibility with live-streaming, one doesn't have to sit down all day and edit video like YouTubers do, instead scopers can sit down all day and just chat. YouTubers have to fucking grind so much more!

In all sorts of ways because of live-streaming, the bar has been lowered in terms of acquiring an audience, the technical challenges aren't there, the audience is dynamic and current. Do other scopers realise how easy it is compared to YouTubers? That unknowing ease can create a misplaced perception that scopers have talent and a 'value' because they have an audience. 

Some scopers may simply have first mover advantage on Periscope, they may have attractive physical features, or they broadcast so much they gain an audience by default, or they are the only ones broadcasting in their area. People will also watch anything. While it seems I'm making reference to certain scopers, I'm not, I'm just pointing out the minimums to become popular on Periscope. It isn't difficult so if anyone can do it just by putting time into the app, how does a scoper declare themselves a scoper better than the rest?

This leads us to better metrics.

Better Metrics

Periscope have insisted on live views for scopers to determine what is a 'good' scope and a contributing scoper. This is how Periscope allow scopers to become VIPs in the first place; by focusing on live views. On the face of it, live views might sound important in the statistics, but dig deeper and one begins to wonder what is the value for an advertiser if a broadcaster has 30,000 subscribers, only 2-4k in views, with an average watch time of only 20 seconds.

Again, are people being realistic in the face of such metric? Is a scope with a watch time of under a minute worth anything? Are scopers checking their stats? I think 4-5 minutes is the minimum where you can deduce value and expect some kind of payout. Periscope focusing on live views is too simplistic and doesn't inform advertisers of a scoper's ability to keep people's attention would it's worth their while and also sends the wrong signal to scopers that this is what they need to pay attention to!

Importance has to be on replay watch time. Replay watch time isn't something that can be as easily gamed, and YouTube already uses this as one of their most valuable metrics to determine what is or what isn't a good video for the viewer's time and the advertiser's money. An argument can be made for live watch time as well if the tracking of viewers (those viewers who consistently return) is employed, maybe at a severely reduced advertising rate because live view watch times are typically shorter in length because of the sheer number of people coming into a scope live and deciding it isn't for them.

Duh! Don't Wait on Periscope

In the mean time as it will take a while to bring monetisation to the whole Periscope platform, I suggest scopers should seek their own forms of monetisation through PayPal, Patreon or their own merchandise. Especially if they get demonetised for not being PC later on down the road. It's going to happen, I'm not clever in predicting this. I'm just not sleep walking into it. Some YouTubers are currently discovering they shouldn't rely on the YouTube advertising revenue system that provides them with their main source of income, alternative sources of income provides redundancy guys!

If scopers are waiting for Periscope then they are not trying hard enough or thinking in a creative manner, and I would see this as indicator of their general ability to market themselves in the first place, never mind someone else's product! If a scoper can't think to throw out even a PayPal link, then I'm concerned.

If this sounds like I am picking on anybody I'm not trying to. I'm simply trying to point out that scopers shouldn't sit on their hands and wait for something to come to them, they should create their own opportunities instead of waiting to qualify for a native advertising program.

In (a sorta) Conclusion

While I'm concerned about the metrics Twitter/Periscope may employ, I'm more concerned about how we as viewers find entertaining broadcasts. As I write this, Periscope have determined that a 'breathtaking sunset' from Spain and a 'morning walk' in England requires my attention.

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Footnotes

*Its an irony in of itself that Periscope doesn't use Periscope to disseminate information to users of its platform.

If Periscope accounts were monetised, what would the criteria be? Let's take a moment to consider one of the biggest changes to the platform, it changes many things. Importantly, mindsets, some Youtubers currently are considering shutting down their channels because they aren't making money. They are willing to shutter everything considering the out lay in equipment. What is the minimum out lay for a scoper? A smart phone. How flippantly can we be as scopers to the detriment of the platform because our real goal was to make money.

There is already drama on the platform because of the way Periscope can't communicate their efforts clearly without money being involved! Enterprising scopers are finding their own ways which negates the issues raised.

For as little as $1 you can be a patreon and support my writing, podcasting and live-streaming. For a single dollar you'll be given access to limited chat broadcasts (on Periscope) and access to the private patreon blog. Link here

Hurdles of Live-Streaming with a DJI Drone on Periscope

Having owned a DJI Mavic since December 2016, it think it's valuable to share my perspective on what it takes to learn how to pilot a flying robot with cutting blades, across one of the most densely populated parts of the world.

I'm in a unique position, in so much as being one of the very few live-stream broadcasters in Hong Kong showing the sights and sounds.

I live-stream on the Periscope platform. Most live-streams are a private broadcast for patreons, and once a month, I also share a public scope with non-paying viewers. For those interested in knowing more, click the link. There is also a schedule at the top of the page.

I also make and upload some drone videos on to my YouTube channel.

I wish I could solely make videos for the YouTube platform as it's much easier than live-streaming on Periscope. All I need to do is select a location free of signal and legal interference. This isn't anything to do with the in-built option of streaming on YouTube with the DJI Go software, it's down to the fact that live-streaming with a drone on Periscope has so much more to set up behind the scenes in order to pilot it.

No native solution for Periscopers. Need to use RTMP to set up a drone as a seperate device.

No native solution for Periscopers. Need to use RTMP to set up a drone as a seperate device.

Things to Consider Before Flying Using Periscope.

  1. Location function is turned off. Viewers can't follow you along on the map that's normally provided in periscopes and the viewers end up constantly asking pilots where they are flying*.
  2. You need two (iOS) devices. I have to create a hotspot from one iPhone to another iPhone to be able to stream on Periscope (actually I don't need to hotspot, I just need 2 unlimited data connections you know?!). I have a spare iPad, but as others have reported to me, hotspotting to iPads doesn't work. Luckily I have a second iPhone paid for by my patreons**.
  3. The DJI Go app doesn't natively support Periscope. If it did, I'd need only one phone. So now I'm looking at two screens (if piloting alone) while a dangerous flying robot with spinning blades is hovering over Hong Kong. The current solution I feel is basically a quick fix.
  4. Periscope Producer (PP) requires more bandwidth by default. Normal scopes broadcast at 380p. PP needs at least 960x540, so more cell bandwidth is required. Luckily I have unlimited LTE in Hong Kong. You're out of luck if you're on a plan with a GB limit.

These four items I hope, are simplified by Periscope at some point, however their hard-on for 360 VR Periscopes know no bounds and the development team I'm repeatedly told, is small. I am going to assume technical changes will be coming later rather than sooner. Phone calls to DJI are certainly required. Kayvon the co-founder of Periscope has never even flown a Mavic on his own platform. I wish he would do, and then realise how ridiculous the current solution is.

So why do I live-stream on Periscope then?. It's just live-streaming is so attractive, and I have overcome these hurdles in spite of Periscope's attitude towards drone broadcasts. I continue to stream because of the engagement factor, it's a massive incentive to narrate and engage with an audience. This is why it's mostly a paid affair. Should this extra work be given away for free?

Other things to consider.

  1. I need near perfect signal to stream. Another Periscoper "Penguinsix" with his YouTube channel, created a short video to display the actual signal strength from an iPhone. I've learnt for Periscope broadcasts with a drone, that I need a minimum of -90 to ensure no stuttering is present during a scope. Anything above that might not even work!
  2. Legal issues. I'm not allowed within 50 meters of a structure or a building, flying at night is a no no as well.
  3. Hong Kong is extremely dense. Signals from wifi, radio signals, metal, satellite TV, other GPS devices, interference from buildings, it goes on and on. Even with Ocusync and a signal booster, signal strength is going to be severely limited in and around Hong Kong. So far I can get around 400-500 metres in a given direction near the city when I'm lucky. Over open fields and water, I can get 2km.
  4. Don't forget mother nature! A pilot needs good weather and low wind speed. 

"I am one with the force, the force is with me".

I'm still learning how to stream with enough signal ( the '-90' required simply to enable periscope transmissions). It's my biggest obstacle that I can't pre-plan for. I'm learning only through trial and error; taking notes of signal strength in and around the city as I travel. It's slowly becoming a sixth sense. It's a different intuitive mind map aside from just knowing where to just fly a drone legally. 

Hong Kong itself is almost an island city state, I'm lucky with open areas to fly over busy shipping lanes, near city structures, islands, massive religious statues (two Buddha statues exist), abandoned villages, peninsulas, bays, mountain peaks and open fields. I want to fly all over it using Periscope if I can. It's still the best live-streaming platform for showing the world, Hong Kong.

My hope is that people find these brief technical descriptions useful for flying near a city while using Periscope. I also hope there is a better understanding between viewers, and those who create 'drone scopes' because of the amount of technical knowledge required just to provide another form of entertainment that can be dismissed away by tapping an 'X'.

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* Periscopes made with drones need 'Periscope Producer', but 360 periscopes, regular periscopes get the option of including location. Periscope have responded to requests that 'most' scopes are inside a studio and don't need the location option. The big deal behind this however is discoverability is lowered dramatically. So spend thousands on technology only to be penalised in the process. The most mobile type of a Periscope live-stream ironically doesn't feature the ability to know to viewers where they are.

** The Phantom 4 required one smartphone to broadcast. Location was also available, so on some technical levels, live-streaming with a drone on Periscope has retarded.