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Promoting Your Stream: Growing Your Audience for Live Video and VOD

Whether you're planning for a live webinar, driving viewers to a multi-day rock festival livestream, or driving fans to your Twitch stream, there’s one common fear: You show up and no one’s there. Fear not: There's a playbook for how to promote your stream to drive your fans, and new audiences, to tune in at a specific date, time, and location. What are the best practices for engaging your existing audience? How do you find net-new potential viewers? 

Toni Tiemann, Account Director at Gupta Media, has run performance-marketing campaigns promoting some of the biggest streaming brands in the world, including this year’s stream of the Stagecoach Music Festival. Here are the key strategies and tactics you need to think about:


1. What makes an effective pre-show landing page for a stream? 

Long before your stream goes live, you’re going to need a landing page: the virtual gateway to your livestream event. Whether your stream will be free or you’ll be charging admission, your landing page needs to be accessible to everyone. In its pre-show phase, the landing page has a unique function: The CTA is delayed. What matters most is that the user returns to the site—or to your streaming platform—when the stream launches. This presents some unique challenges.

How do you engage an audience that needs to come back later? Here are two tactics that have worked for our clients: 

    1. Set up a reminder and/or Add-to-Calendar function at the top of the landing page to bring users back the moment the stream is starting. 

    2. Collect phone numbers and email addresses by offering a text-to-remind feature, bringing value to your CRM and opening a channel to communicate directly with users right when the stream kicks off.  

While livestreams are unique in their delayed CTAs, you also don’t want to ignore standard landing page best practices. Harry Dry’s Landing Page guide outlines the five key above-the-fold components you’ll want to include: 

    1. Explain the value you provide (title)

    2. Explain how you'll create it (subtitle)

    3. Let the user visualize it (visual)

    4. Make it believable (social proof)

    5. Make taking the next step easy (CTA)

Focus on optimizing it for a seamless user experience, taking into account factors such as loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and engaging content. A well-optimized landing page can significantly impact user engagement and conversion rates.

2. When you’re advertising a webinar or livestream, what is the most effective budget distribution between pre-show, live tune-in, and Video-on-Demand (VOD) phases? 

You can break down any stream into three phases — the before, during, and after — and each phase presents a unique opportunity to engage your viewers. For each phase, you’ll want to think about different messaging to drive viewership. 

If you weight your advertising spend heavily on pre-show promotions, you’re delivering the bulk of the messaging before the product is available; but if you wait until the stream starts to begin spending, it might be too late. What’s the right mix? There’s no hard and fast answer. Instead, here are some variables that need to be considered and weighed to determine appropriate spend by phase of the campaign: 

    • How long is the stream? Shorter streams—an hour or less—present extreme spending limitations for tune-in campaigns. It typically takes too long for the platforms to begin delivery, ramp up, and optimize. Whereas longer streams, like a three-day festival, offer ample opportunity for an aggressive live tune-in push. 

    • How engaged is your existing core audience? For brands that have expansive, highly-engaged fanbases, your organic channels may be able to do more heavy lifting in the pre-stream phase of the campaign, making live tune-in reminders more important on the paid side. 

      • But what if you need to generate demand among new, top-funnel audiences? For this goal, the effective tactic is strong pre-show storytelling coupled with aggressive live tune-in retargeting. 

    • How strong is your pre-show landing page? If you’ve run live streams in the past, look at your data to see when your landing page has been most effective at driving tune-in. This will help you determine the most efficient times to target your spend. 

    • What phase matters to sponsors? Different streamers have different business models. For some, the live component may be only the first phase of a longer revenue-generating campaign; for others, driving live tune-in may be more important. For those with flexibility, think past live. The short-term nature of a live tune-in campaign will always drive up costs. If the VOD is as (or more) valuable to sponsorship partners, consider weighting spend into VOD when advertising costs will be more efficient.

    • What time is the livestream—locally? Time your stream so that the primary market is online. If your primary demo spans multiple time zones, the livestream might be taking place in the middle of the night or early morning for some of your audience, when most users are likely to miss it. For livestreams with a broad audience spanning time zones, consider weighting spend heavily into live tune-in only for markets aligned with peak digital activity. For other markets, focus on VOD messaging when the stream is more locally accessible. 

3. What is the most meaningful KPI at each of these stages? And how do you best optimize for each?

We can think of this challenge in two distinct phases: 1) Before; 2) During and after. 

    • Pre-show:
      • When using a stream-optimized landing page with reminder capabilities in place, optimize reminders as the primary KPI. If conversion tracking is unavailable for this action, optimize for traffic to the landing page.
      • In situations where the pre-show landing page is weak or does not exist, optimize for engagements to build a qualified audience. This builds your retargeting audiences with highly engaged, qualified users who have already expressed interest in the show. These users can later be aggressively retargeted during the live tune-in and on-demand phases. 
    • Live tune-in and On-Demand:
      • Traffic, traffic, traffic. Optimize for high-quality clicks to the stream. Simple, right? Not quite. 
        • On a platform like TikTok where clicks tend to skew toward the first 0-2 seconds of a video, how do we deliver high-intent audiences to the landing page? One new solution: TikTok is offering a beta test called Landing Page View optimization that has shown promising results; find an agency who can get you access.
        • When the stream occurs in an app like Amazon Prime Video or Twitch, minimize dropoff rates by utilizing deep linking wherever possible. This will reduce friction and enhance the user experience. 
        • If you’re using ad placements such as Facebook feed ads, improve traffic quality by using image or carousel creative (more on that below).
      • When conversion tracking is available, use the strength of platform pixels to optimize for livestream plays. Or, if the platform supports greater complexity, consider setting up deeper actions, such as optimizing for streams of 60 seconds or longer. 

4. What is the most compelling creative for promoting a stream? 

The research on this is clear: You have exactly two seconds. 

Capture viewers' attention within the first two seconds of your pre-show content, using video assets wherever possible. A few tips:

    • Ensure that the most important information is conveyed early to hook the audience and encourage further engagement. 
    • Whenever possible, leverage snippets from previous live content to create enticing cutdowns. These can serve as teasers to build anticipation and attract potential viewers.
    • Think critically about the limitations of the platform you’re advertising on. Even within a particular ad placement on a single platform, different ad types can generate drastically different returns. For example: In Facebook feed ads, you might be better off running image ads instead of video ads, if you’re optimizing for traffic without pixel tracking in place. Why? Because Facebook’s watch-and-load feature creates ambiguity in attribution and delivers low-intent clicks. Instead, try image ads or carousel ads, which will deliver higher intent traffic and more measurable results.  

To promote your on-demand video, transform key moments from the livestream into compelling cutdowns. These shorter video snippets should be used to drive engagement and create excitement around the on demand content. If VOD is only available for a limited time, use that deadline to create urgency—which in turn will improve both clickthrough and conversion rates. 

5. How can you leverage social platforms like TikTok, Meta, and Google to promote tune-in to your stream? 

In the pre-show phase of any livestream campaign, consider ad types that, in addition to excitement, create a sense of urgency and bring users back for more. One of TikTok’s latest add-ons, Countdown Stickers, helps to build anticipation ahead of livestream launch. 

TikTok also recently launched a new beta that, in addition to driving urgency, also allows advertisers to set up a reminder feature integrated into the countdown. 

Instagram quickly followed suit, launching an ad companion to its organic Reminder feature. When using this new beta feature, your pre-stream campaigns can be optimized for users to set up a reminder that will deliver a push notification as the livestream is about to begin.

Older tools that deliver the same benefits, engagement and urgency, are also still effective: 

    • Consider leveraging countdown functions in Google search ads. 
    • Instagram Polls remain an effective tool to increase both engagement and average watch time in Story placements.

Successfully marketing a livestream event requires meticulous planning and execution across all phases. By optimizing the pre-show experience, engaging viewers during the live event, and extending the impact through VOD content, you can create an immersive and memorable livestream experience. Remember to adapt your strategies based on platform capabilities, audience preferences, and technical requirements to achieve the best results in the ever-evolving world of livestream marketing.


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