What Lies Ahead for Periscope - Discoverability (Part Two)

What lies ahead for Periscope - Monetisation. Discussed the issue of monetisation for creators; how they shouldn’t wait for Periscope to build in monetisation features. I advocated the idea to create their own revenue streams now, so as not to be solely dependant on Periscope. This came about because creators on YouTube had their channels demonetised. Those creators (on YouTube) that haven’t suffered, have other sources of revenue as a fallback. Periscopers should do the same. 

Part 2 deals with Discoverability, Part 3 deals with the quality of the live-streams present on the Periscope platform.


One of the largest concerns from the community since late 2015 has been one of search and discovery; finding the best broadcasters possible. The Periscope app hasn’t made any real progress towards finding consistent, and quality, live-streams in its two year history. 

One implementation that was seen as a step towards allowing viewers to simply find something to watch was the VIP program. The VIP program enables VIPs to give the Periscope editorial team a heads up on live-streams they think are worth promoting (a VIP can in fact notify Periscope and the editorial team will review it live in order to feature it).

Currently the most fruitful way (in terms of quantity) of finding a live-stream involves looking at the list view. The list view provides thumbnails and titles of broadcasts, all streams sit equally on the list (unless featured), much like your homepage on the YouTube app. The immediate difference though to the YouTube app; those videos on the YouTube app are a mixture of what the app thinks you may want to watch and from those creators you already subscribe to.

Pictured above are the four main screens with which to find broadcasts on Periscope vs the three screens from YouTube pictured below.

Aside from the list view on Periscope, you can find streams on the world map (streams are seen geographically). There is also the ‘TV’ tab, showing the recent broadcasts of those you follow. This aspect of the app does have some variation to it. If a stream is of importance, Periscope can push it to your device to ‘feature’ above the existing replays on that list and provide a category bubble further letting viewers understand the context, it may be ‘Travel’, ’Politics’, ‘Culture’ and so forth. These featured scopes depend on a 24 hour editorial team. 

This is short summary goes towards explaining what discovery currently is on Periscope. As there is no true search capability (category search) and understandably, looking for something live is quite a task due to the nature of the stream ending at any moment. Search has to lean on the broadcaster rather than the content. Finding something to watch on YouTube is no contest because it’s the largest video library in the world; with videos also having less ephemerality and tagging built in compared to broadcasts on Periscope.

How does discoverability get better? I’m aware of a Twitter endeavour to algorithmically determine the content of live-streams to make the identification process easier. That aside (which isn’t out yet) what is the solution? A similar intent is being made towards nudity.

Something that could have been implemented in 2016 was the ability to let the scoper decide on their own category bubble, from that, a basic form of categorisation could be collectively formed by broadcasters and used as another form of search by viewers. The implementation of this type of tagging and categorising towards broadcasts can also be organised in a summary based on the last five streams. 

If I made five streams with a tag like ‘travel’, then I’m in the travel section of a gallery list of other likeminded topics. I could automatically transfer over to politics if (because I’m in Hong Kong and Hong Kong people protest as a past time) the next three streams were tagged ‘Politics’ (three more streams puts me over the middle of five as the preceding last two would still be travel related).

This would also solve the existential issue broadcasters might have if they think they fit in more than one category. The app decides dynamically, balancing the broadcaster’s position based on the frequency of the tags . If the user forgets, the system ignores the scope, until the majority of untagged scopes takes you out of any category.

This way, viewers have an extra avenue in search functionality towards discovering other broadcasters and the proposal is simply extending the existing system used by the editorial team. It isn’t wholly a brand new form of discovery to design, develop and test for, for the Periscope team. The algorithm isn’t complex either, it simply sorts broadcasts on a weighting scale determined by broadcasters willing to tag their broadcasts.

The VIP Program and Search Results

The VIP Program is supposed to be the other way of discovering and boosting the visibility of Periscopers on the platform. In retrospect the VIP Program seem to be a solution that goes the long way round towards enhancing discoverability on the platform.

The VIP Program requires a lot of behind the scenes effort to implement and maintain by the Periscope team, its been in operation for quite some time now, with VIP scopers reflecting on its actual aims. I’m one of them and I’ve always thought the VIP system would come in phases, currently it still seems to be on phase one of an implementation, like it’s still unfinished.

One of the benefits of the platform is to be given “Prioritisation in people search results, so people can find you more easily” (as stated on the VIP sign up page). I don’t know how true this actually is as I can’t make comparisons to my status before the program.

I do know, that those following is a factor, type ‘Jonathan’ into periscope and i’m 10th, the results are in ranked order because of following. All twenty in the search result are twitter verified with myself in the middle. If I type ‘jonathanjk’ all my accounts show up regardless of their VIP status in the top twenty.

If I type ‘Hong Kong’, I don’t show up in the top twenty, the placement depends me putting ‘hong kong’ into my profile. Just like followers is being counted (and number of followers being counted as part of the search placement results is dynamic, if I over took Jonathan Ross from British TV, I’d be first), I think location should as well, without me putting it in my description. Changing my profile description to include ‘#hongkong’ actually immediately places me 6th on the list.

What also caught my eye was my New York Times editor friend, he’s ninth on the list and never scopes, he has over 1k following because of his Twitter verification and twitter presence (huge). A lot of Twitter verified users do show up in the rankings, while I have no beef against that on the surface. I wonder how active those accounts on the whole are. My friend’s isn’t at all and it got me thinking, if following numbers have an impact on search results, why can’t the regularity of when someone broadcasts have an impact as well? Surely if a person is interested in following a scoper from Hong Kong and wants to know more, does the platform benefit by throwing up accounts that are hardly used? Surely active accounts should get a higher ranking. How often a scoper broadcasts is even in the requirements for the VIP program.

Periscope is in the business of connecting viewers with broadcasters, so do it!

Now does any of what you’ve read help with the perception of quality broadcasts? No, this is just one piece of an already large pie when discussing discoverability. We will return to this in part 3.

The PET (Periscope Editorial Team)

It strikes me as odd that the Periscope team feature types of broadcast that have a limited appeal to viewers or regularly feature similar looking scopes. Looking at the watch time would illustrate the video featured isn’t of interest and I’m not sure how many sunset scopes or lovely walks in the country side I can take anymore, .

Simply put. I have five minutes, I’m looking at my home-screen, where do I use those minutes? On the YouTube app where an algorithm gives me what I want, or a live video (if it’s still live) of something a human has curated for me on Periscope. The live experience counts so much, but typing is extra work on Periscope, for YouTube, it’s an after thought.

It’s been made clear to me from a member of the team at Periscope that Periscope won’t feature replay broadcasts. I would argue against that somewhat as YouTube is mostly all replays. Second, are the 6-7 scopes featured, really the best of what the Periscope platform offers? With featured scopes also staying on my phone for roughly 24 hours. Do you know how fast YouTube works to cater to my flippant tastes on its home-screen?

YouTube is All About the Replays!

I want to suggest a doubling of the number of featured scopes. To save time for the viewer, split them across two feature boxes as opposed to one. Later, with time, feature a greater variety of broadcasts and dedicate the feature boxes to single categories? With watch times in these scopes amounting to 17 seconds to a 1 minute, there needs to be more featured content because people drive through them almost instantly. The average watch time proves this.

To further this suggestion of featuring more broadcasts, (in order to better flesh out the app, and keep people onboard) VIP scopers are somewhat at a loss with the fact that Periscope makes no effort to help scopers with providing residual value to their replays (how can they be shown again). Though to defend Periscope first, it wouldn’t hurt broadcasters to figure out a way where they the broadcaster themselves could indulge in a little bit of self-promotion by their own means. I know Periscope is about the live experience first, but this only goes so far towards entertaining users when there are only so many live scopes at any one time. Why can’t their be a‘Remember This?’ or ‘You Missed This’ feature which do in fact show replays. Is there really any harm in having a replay section to feature more entertaining scopes? To provide even more variety Periscope has to look back for great replays that were never featured live. If you want to get technical, featured live scopes are featured longer on the replay than they are live anyway.

Broadcasters can be happier because there is a potential for further discovery and second, there is more content to keep people on the app. The editorial team in theory should be able to pick even better scopes because the scopes don’t need to be live and you can use ‘watch time’ as a metric for scopers who want to submit broadcasts to this section of the app.

To Conclude

There isn't really a conclusion to this as part 3 directly continues and concludes on part 2. Part 3 will directly address the issue of quality broadcasts through a more in-depth discussion of watch time.


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.



*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