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

My Next Camera

I don't even have my new iPhone 6S+ yet and I'm already telling people on Periscope when I'll logically upgrade (the plan was for the iPhone 8S+ btw).

Before I broke my iPhone 4S, I wanted to go from the 4S to the first 12 megapixel iPhone, I nearly did if it wasn't for my own stupidity. I then waited it out with a second hand iPhone 5, I could have easily made that 4S last four years. Surely I can do it again with my 6S+? I don't see why not when the specs of the new iPhone is orders of magnitude more powerful. This new iPhone should have an easier task of servicing me for another four years. 

Or will it?

The iPhone 6S+ has finally bested the camera in my iPhone 5. When will it best my 16 megapixel Fuji X100 S? Or has it already if you compare the all round capabilities of the iPhone to the Fuji?

How Quickly Can I Replace my Standalone Camera?

My metrics for doing so would be through a combination of picture quality being 'good enough' and various workflow scenarios. A standalone camera might have more megapixels and the ability to shoot RAW, but if this documentary is anything to go by, or this one, it won't matter. I think I will find myself neglecting my Fuji X100 S camera now more than ever, never mind the next camera purchase. The 5 minute short film shot in 4K from the phone in the first link easily illustrates the strengths of the iPhone over a dedicated camera at various market segments.

Since I don't shoot with super high end gear, my setup is ripe for disruption. When I documented the Hong Kong protests of 2014, I brought both cameras to the streets, I made sure the "professional" photos were taken with the Fuji. This mindset and habit is going to change once I have the 6S+.

I Want to Shoot Unburdened Again and Then Some*.

I remember switching from Canon in 2012 to Fuji to simplify my workflow, I'll gladly do it again if it means carrying less and becoming more agile while travelling or with post-processing. 

Disruption is going to hit harder and sooner, Apple are operating at an amazing pace, they control the software platform to cultivate new apps, and can absorb new features into the phone for a marginal increase in price. From this point of comparison can I even justify a new Fuji camera for the cost of a new iPhone? The value of an iPhone is growing with each release. As a Fuji fan, is there even any point waiting for a camera with decent video capabilities? (4K is the requirement at least for now please Fuji Gods). 


This Isn't Earth-Shattering New News.

iPhone photography is serious stuff I find myself wanting in on and it seems others are already. Lens based artists have always made these seismic jumps, even against ridicule from stalwarts, jumping when switching from large format to 35mm, 35mm to digital and now as digital photography transitions over to people opting for their phone instead of a dedicated camera setup. Some people use their smartphone instead of a desktop or laptop, so why not their camera as well?

I also remember all kinds of gear talk at University (conversations of which I happily partook in) and it was always about which gears was best. The lecturers, sensing a level of bullshitting they've heard year after year from students, informed us on how out in the real world, no one would ever ask what somebody shot with if the client brief was met. To quote God in Futurama "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all".

This was true even before I graduated, everything rested on the work not with what you shot with. Let's put that to the test again shall we?

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*This feels like a natural fit for me as well because I'm incessantly trying to cut away the inessential, and importantly I work for myself when it comes to my own photography work.

Update:- This article where a Swiss TV station is replacing their equipment with iPhones.

Second update:- Lee Morris of Fstoppers has compared the iPhone 6s against his own Nikon DSLR gear. The iPhone wins in IDEAL SHOOTING CONDITIONS (please listen to what he has to say before jumping off at the deep end).

Third update:- The guys over at 'On Taking Pictures' have a great discussion on this very topic.