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

Living for the Moments

Let's begin off topic.

I hesitated to share the link to this really informative article. It's from a new website publication called The Outline. I hesitated because the layout of the website; it't trying to be something groundbreaking when nobody asked for it to be anything else. Can it just be a great venue for the news because of its content alone?

Josh Topolsky, was previously both the editor of Engadget and The Verge, he came up with the concept. Currently I'm surviving off his tweets when he directly links to stories on his site. I can't be bothered navigating it.

Anyway besides that hinderance, here's the direct link to the article here, don't even try to navigate the site, you'll be cerebrally confused and visually paralysed for minutes on end.

The article itself is informative on the effects of live-streaming on performers taking ever increasing risks with stunts because of a willing, waiting and watching audience.

The fact people are watching in their millions is purposely pushing stunts to be ever more dazzling just for the views. The reality created by this new unquestioned type of audience participation has led to the deaths of some the individuals doing the stunts. 

That's the summary, read the rest yourself.

I found this story personally engaging, immediately because of course I live-stream as well. I can attest to this feeling and have gone out of my way to push myself to do things I wouldn't have done had I not been filming it in the first place. I'm entering a different world, a bubble with an augmented (my) self. So much so I feel uncomfortable if the phone connection dies and reality abruptly comes rushing back in.

In these live-streaming scenarios, I feel the audience is on my side and I want to entertain. I even walked into the ocean last week (the Vibrams I was wearing helped btw). I've been aware of this state for some time now because I know ordinarily what I think I'm capable of. Knowing ones true self though is already a large philosophical discussion and in short, I believe our selves are already changing. I guess in this situation, its doing more because its an extreme form of focus on the one holding the phone.

Case in point, I'm committing myself to a multi-year, live-streaming project exploring Hong Kong, because of my directly engaged and dedicated audience, this impetus can be both benign, inspiring and potentially a troublemaker. Before live-streaming I wasn't really trying to see everything Hong Kong has to offer. Now people want to be entertained I'm constantly thinking of new things to see for those viewers and importantly for myself. Quite rightly, the motivation is for me to explore Hong Kong for myself first and bring people along. Not primarily do it for fame, money etc.

I'm glad the article exists, it's part of an ongoing discussion I have with myself and where social media is taking us, it put into words something that I could relate to. I'm definitely going to read more on the topic as this medium matures. I hope people watching me can better appreciate me say I say, 'Live-streaming is life-changing'. 

Live Streaming Workflows

I wasn't surprised when I saw that the newly released top end 9.7" iPad Pro is the same price as the top end iPhone 6s+. I'm just noodling here as I put more into live-streaming and create a device workflow around live-streaming to mitigate connectivity or image quality issues I might have. By considering either one of these screens as a secondary iOS device I want to:

  • shoot 4K footage and take decent pictures (alongside the live-streaming)
  • replace my home WiFi (old Chinese apartments are limited to 2mbps)
  • have a back up Internet device (a mobile hotspot device)

As mobile devices (can someone come up with a better name yet*) technology advances, my retro digital camera is proving itself to be a bit of a stuck in the mud. (Of course it is, it's retro!) Any new purchase would also need to replace my digital camera. 

The general utility of an iOS device isn't interested in being anchored down by cables and with work flows crossing over to a desktop computer before final upload. I'm adapting my work flow to not concern itself over Raw handling and image quality. I think the tradeoffs are there where I can say it's good enough now on a mobile device. 

Just for the record, the price of a replacement camera for my Fuji x100s is also roughly the same price as either of the two iOS devices. Amazing hey? Now which iOS device to buy?

The basic internal specs of both devices are the same with a few features leapfrogging the iPhone for the moment. A data plan is basically the same with both devices so we can ignore that. So it comes down to these basic things:

  • Battery life 
  • Portability 
  • Screen size (workflow dependent)

Battery Life

Hands down, the iPad wins and as a base station outside the house it's much better than the puny battery in the iPhone 6s+ to provide internet connectivity to say a laptop. I still hope Apple bring out a battery pack for this larger model. Periscoping hammers the battery and I've never benefitted from going from an iPhone5 to the iPhone6s+ when it comes to battery life. WINNER - iPad. 

Portability

Both devices are already super thin and this is truly a first world problem for the minimalist such as myself. But still, which one? I can easily hold two iPhones together, one streaming, one shooting 4K (some velcro will solve that). I wouldn't be drawing attention to myself too much with that set up. Now live stream with an iPad and iPhone combo, it's a bit more awkward. WINNER - iPhone. 

Screen Size

Do I want to edit my work on a 9" screen or a 5" screen? Do I want to multitask with the iPad or solo task on the iPhone? Don't forget this is a secondary device, so each device can operate independently of each other. But what is the benefit of the larger screen? WINNER - Unknown

But the iPhone 7 (Conclusion)

This basically means can I and should I wait with what I have already? What will the next generation phone bring, especially when it comes to image quality? The potential downside to waiting for an iPhone7 means I'm only six months away from another, better iPad! This throws up the issue of whether to buy now or buy for tomorrow. I would like to buy for tomorrow (with portability in mind), while the iPad does have the better battery, I do have power packs at my disposal, ready to fast charge both iPhones if I opt for that and in all honesty am I going to use both devices constantly? The screen size doesn't need to be an issue if I can multitask on two phones and of course, two iPhones are smaller than an iPad!   

* I like the German name for a mobile phone, 'handy', which they most certainly are.

UPDATE: I forgot Apple released this as well. It basically means I can plug in a USB microphone and charge both the iOS device and said microphone, not an issue for a fully charged iPad, but the iPhone itself has become a lot more flexible because of a $300HKD add-on for either my periscopes or podcasts.

UPDATE 2: No optical stabiliser on the iPad, you'd think with that bump that justified the newest protrusion to the iOS family, alas no. It's more likely I'll purchase a second iPhone.