How to choose between live and recorded video

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Video is growing as a medium for marketers, with 63 percent planning to increase their video budgets for 2017, according to a survey from Brite Content. And given predictions that video traffic will become 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2020, I applaud these plans.

But with the choice between live and prerecorded video both sitting out there for brands, retailers and publishers, there’s a lot to consider before diving in.

As marketers, it’s now common to weigh the same pros and cons for live or recorded. We want to make a live announcement, but what are the variables we must take into consideration?

What are the benefits of planning and scripting (and filming) in advance for a prerecorded video instead? What type of time/cost savings could we experience with live? And what sort of audience would we be reaching with one video format versus the other?

The cake challenge

Recently, our company, Brandlive, conducted an experiment. We shot a product walk-through demo and set up a challenge with a cake bet, using a “cake to the face” as the payoff.

Later, we did a live broadcast — debuting it with another cake smash, this time completely live and unscripted. (Watch this highlight reel of the broadcast — around 4:17 we set up the first of the two cake smashes and roll into the live cake smash.)

The recorded video took two and a half months to conceptualize, script, staff, audition talent and produce. When it came time for the actual video, it needed 13 hours of filming (in one day) and another 10 for editing and post-production for the near-three-minute video. The cost for all of that? Just under $15,000.

For the pre-recorded video, we also required two cakes (including a back-up, which was utilized after the first smash went poorly). The misfire required a wardrobe change, more choreography and more time.

The end result of the second cake smash was a great piece of marketing collateral that effectively provided the information needed in the tone we wanted for that venue. But it did cost additional time and money to pull together.

During the second, live cake smash, the differences were stark. It only took 90 minutes to conceptualize the entire live event overall. We had a couple of hours of prep work, a one-hour production run-through, and then we were ready to go. Our own in-house team led the production, and a member of the marketing team managed the second camera.

We embraced the unique aspects of live for the second cake smash, creating a customized page and contest in a short amount of time. The audience had to guess how long it took to build and customize a Brandlive event page, then the person with the closest guess would choose who was hit in the face with the cake.

The “victim” was secretly shared with the live audience, but not with the possible three victims. The process was high-energy and entertaining for both those involved and users alike. Out-of-pocket cost was $40 for the one cake (since it was utilized live, we had one shot).

Both cake smashes were successful, but they accomplished different things. Our prerecorded product walk-through was informative, yet fun. Its guiding force was the speed of delivery, underlined by the fun of the video. It needed to deliver a strong first impression, and for that, we chose prerecorded.

For the live presentation, the emphasis was on driving audience interaction and creating anticipation and a fun payoff for the audience. We had well over 100 people stay with us live for over 60 minutes.

Choosing between prerecorded and live

Prerecorded and live video both have their respective places and strengths in the marketing world. To figure out which one to utilize for your own organization, the best starting point is your goals around the content — the messaging, the audience, the “look” of the final product.

Experienced partners within and outside your organization also can provide recommendations and direction to ultimately determine the correct medium. Should this be a sit-back-and-watch experience, or a lean-forward-and-participate one for the target audience? Is there a desire for interaction, or simply absorption? These questions may help you decide which direction to head in.

Investing in video is a business decision that everyone must make, given the massive adoption of the medium, and one that should be considered carefully.

The beauties of live are its spontaneity, interactivity, authenticity and agility, along with a low cost to produce. Pre-recorded video’s strength comes from its ability to drive emotion, deliver a perfect story and showcase a high level of polish.

No matter which method you choose — and we would recommend both in your mix — there’s an exciting world of streaming content out there. Don’t hesitate to innovate and throw your hat into the ring… or a cake into someone’s face.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.




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