Webcasting and Webcast Advertising

Everything You Need to Know to Plan an Effective Webcast Ad Campaign

What is webcasting?

A webcast is a multimedia event or e-presentation that can play video, sound, slides, or any combination of any of these sensory techniques. Further, a webcast can utilize a database back end to collect and store participant information (opinion surveys, voting, chat, email addresses, etc.) to make it an interactive e-presentation.

Types of Webcasts

There are different types of webcasts, tailored to the different needs of an audience.

1. Live Webcast: a fashion show, a news event, a concert, an analyst meeting, a sales meeting - any realtime webcast as the event is actually happening.

2. Archived Webcast: after the live webcast, the webcast can be indexed and archived for people who couldn't view it live.

3. Stand-alone Webcast: this webcast is placed as an ad or an archive piece - training materials, entertainment or an ad at a popular website.

4. Interactive Webcast: a webcast that collects information from its viewers - surveys, emails, etc. It can be either live or stand-alone.

Webcast Advertising Objectives

To determine your webcast ad objectives, consider:

1. Your target market. Gather as much demographic information on your customer as possible (age, sex, job function, income. etc.) Also, consider your psychographic profile. What are your targets' interests, regardless of their demographic profile?

2. Your advertising communication objective. (Branding, traffic-building, direct sales, corporate communication, public relations, investor relations, etc.)

3. Measures of successful implementation (high amount of visitation, emails, click-throughs, answering survey questions correctly, etc.)

4. Your budget. Return on investment is another significant measure of success.

Webcasting Media Types

Webcasts can utilize many different types of multimedia. Which forms are best suited to your objectives?

1. Video
2. Slides
3. Audio
4. Audio with slides
5. Video with slides
6. Streaming text with links
7. Database back end for collecting information

The Webcast Audience

Decide if your webcast is intended for the general public or if it is "by invitation only." The size of the audience impacts the server and bandwidth needed to for a successful webcast. An audience of 12 assembled for a sales meeting needs fewer bandwidth resources, while a large audience of 5,000+ for a live webcast of a popular concert will require several dedicated servers to handle a high volume.

Decide if your webcast will be free to the general public, or pay-per-view. Will it be password protected for a limited audience?

Make sure your target audience is appropriately equipped to view your content. Find out the type of browsers and computers your audience will be using. Most webcasts can be easily viewed on the latest Netscape and Explorer browsers with appropriate plug-ins. Also, select the type of media player your audience will use to view your message. Quicktime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player are popular options.

Other Webcast Parameters

Determine the length of the webcast advertising. How many minutes you will need for your webcast? Think in terms of your original objectives. Shorter is usually better, but if you want audience feedback, allow for more time. Also, how big will your webcast be in bytes? Will your server be able to facilitate the size of your webcast?

Determine which kinds of interactive elements you will include by deciding what you want your participant to do upon viewing your ad. They can interact in any number of ways:

1. Answer a survey
2. Click through to your site
3. Online chat
4. Real-time voting
5. E-mail

Think in terms of your original objectives. Webcast ads give your audience a unique opportunity to tell you how they feel. Knowing what they think helps you target your message and product.

Webcast Producers and Servers

Ask your web design and programming team for webcast production and server references. If you work with an advertising agency, ask for their recommendations.



Webcast Promotion

Invite your target audience to attend the webcast. Inform participants how, when, and why to access your webcast. Give detailed instructions and arrange for appropriate audience support (email, phone and/or online). Give your audience the instructions they need to download the appropriate viewer for your presentation. Allow ample time to download, install and test the viewer. Provide your audience with appropriate user names and passwords to access the webcast, where appropriate. Use other appropriate means of promotion: banner ads, email campaigns, press releases, online articles, newsletters, intranet articles, etc.

Webcast Production

Depending upon the complexity of the production, this may take days, weeks, or months. One of the advantages of webcasts is re-purposing existing assets (PowerPoint, video, etc.)  If you are re-purposing old assets, make sure their production values translate well to the internet. For example, many of the fancier transitions used in television do not translate well to the internet: wipes, dissolves and fades often lose their impact after they go through the video compression needed for internet webcasting. Even shadowed letters on PowerPoint slides look "crumbly" in a webcast.

You may also decide to produce entirely new content (videos, slides, audio, music, etc.) created especially for webcasting. If you are creating new content, make certain that your producers are familiar with techniques that are suitable for internet webcasting. Make sure the final production is digitized, compressed and encoded for delivery to your webcast server.

Test the Webcast 

The webcast server source will test your intended webcast on their servers. Check for audio and visual quality. Test that the webcast streams smoothly to selected platforms and browsers at the specified bandwidths. Where appropriate, test the user names and passwords. Make sure to test the statistics and reporting, as well.

Serve the Webcast

While the webcast is being served, collect statistics and feedback on audience involvement. Continue to provide your audience with appropriate support during the webcast (email, phone and/or online).

Review Webcast Statistics

Evaluate the success of your webcast by analyzing the webcast log files. Track the number of participants, the average amount of time each participant stayed, their email addresses, type of browser, referral site, etc. Your web log files should collect a wealth of information for you to analyze.

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