Livestreaming has rapidly emerged as an indispensable tool, enabling real-time and interactive communication across various industries. It presents marketers and advertisers with a dynamic and engaging platform to connect with their target audiences in real time. By leveraging the interactivity and immediacy of livestreams, marketers can create authentic and immersive brand experiences, seamlessly integrating product showcases, interactive Q&A sessions, influencer collaborations, and behind-the-scenes glimpses—all while transcending geographical limitations.
What is livestreaming?
Livestreaming is the real-time broadcasting of audio and/or video content over the internet for an audience to watch as it happens.
Livestreaming significantly impacts marketing by providing an interactive and engaging platform for businesses to directly connect with their audiences, showcase products, host events, and foster relationships, ultimately enhancing brand visibility, customer engagement, and sales potential. US livestream sales are forecast to reach $50 billion in 2023, per Coresight Research, as platforms like TikTok, Poshmark, and eBay try to replicate the format’s success in China.
Benefits of livestreaming for marketers
In 2023, livestreaming commerce will account for 19.2% of retail ecommerce sales in China.
Nearly all significant Chinese ecommerce and social platforms engage in live shopping, including Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao, JD.com, Pinduoduo, and WeChat, in addition to short-form video apps like Douyin (TikTok’s counterpart in China) and Kuaishou. Douyin accounted for nearly 40% of internet users who also engage in livestream shopping.
But in the US, where just 18% of people have shopped via livestream and only 6% do so regularly (according to Bizrate Insights), the format hasn’t caught on in the same way.
- US retail social commerce sales are projected to reach $130.10 billion by 2026, per Insider Intelligence forecast. Tapping into livestream commerce presents a unique opportunity for marketers and brands to engage with consumers in a highly interactive and engaging manner.
- Want to learn more about livestreaming and other marketing trends? Sign up for the eMarketer Daily newsletter.
Reaching target audiences
Livestreaming can help retailers reach their audiences in real time. Through livestreaming, retailers and marketers can showcase their expertise, share valuable insights, and connect with consumers on a personal level, building trust and authenticity. It allows for immediate interaction, enabling retailers and marketers to answer questions, respond to comments, and address concerns, fostering a sense of community and responsiveness.
- Livestreams also create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging viewers to tune in at specific times to not miss out on content. Luxury fashion brand Telfar has leveraged that same FOMO factor with livestreams offering exclusive access to certain products in the form of “drops.”
Types of livestreaming
Platforms have been quick to respond to livestreaming demand, enhancing their video capabilities with live functionality and new features for consumers, creators, and businesses. Here are a few of the top livestreaming social media platforms most popular in the US:
What marketers need to know about livestreaming
Interactive and personalized experiences are taking center stage in livestreaming. Collaborations with micro-influencers and creators continue to gain traction, as brands recognize the authentic and niche appeal they bring to livestream campaigns. Gaming livestreams also offer opportunities for marketers thanks to interactive gameplay sessions, allowing direct audience engagement, partnerships with brands and influencers, and more.
“In China, social media is really already synonymous with commerce, so people will go to a social media platform with the mindset of buying something,” said Insider Intelligence senior analyst Carina Perkins. “In the UK and the US, people still primarily view social networks as social.”
Utilizing livestream ecommerce could drive exponential new revenue streams for US retailers. For livestream shopping to catch on in the US and the UK, brands and platforms need to pay attention to what motivates shoppers. Exclusive discounts would be a draw, along with games, quizzes, and giveaways. Brands also need to find the right entertainment pulls like charismatic hosts or celebrity cameos.
Influencer marketing plays a pivotal role in livestreaming. Whether aiming for heightened visibility in awareness campaigns, debuting products, or pursuing conversion strategies, brands can broaden their impact by collaborating with influencers that have substantial followings.
Livestreaming offers digital creators a platform to present content that feels more “organic” compared with polished photos or prerecorded videos. The outcome is a heightened level of engagement with digital shoppers. That word-of-mouth influence helps consumers make purchasing decisions on products they haven’t experienced in-store.
- Live video does carry risk, underscoring the importance of selecting the right influencer. Seek an influencer who exudes trustworthiness, possesses expertise in livestreaming, and excels in engaging with their audience.
Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and YouTube’s gaming channels have established their own niches within livestreaming. In the Q2 2022, individuals worldwide (excluding China) collectively devoted 7.4 billion hours to consuming livestreamed video game content, according to August 2022 Stream Hatchet data.
Esports are a pivotal component within video gaming. The gaming industry—which will accrue $187.7 billion in revenues in 2023, per Newzoo—is also creating more opportunities for the continued growth of esports’ ad revenues. This bodes well for content creators, as they can monetize their streams through paid advertisements.
- These marketing avenues aren’t confined solely to gaming. Celebrities, athletes, lifestyle influencers, and even politicians have embraced platforms like Twitch to connect with new audiences, inciting a shift toward mainstream adoption that could potentially diversify user demographics.