'A teleportation experience': How brands use Periscope to amplify marketing campaigns

What do scenes of summer fun, cannoned collisions, and a skydiving stunt have in common? They're all ways food and beverage brands have begun using Periscope, a live video streaming platform, in their marketing campaigns.

Apps like Amazon's Twitch, Meerkat, Qik, Justin.tv, and Mogulus have predated Periscope. But food and beverage manufacturers seem to be taking Periscope more seriously. Many brands already have an established presence on Twitter, which acquired Periscope last year.

A handful of brands have now begun introducing live video streaming campaigns into their marketing efforts using Periscope. If live video streaming proves itself as a way to connect consumers more intimately with brands and product experiences, platforms like Periscope will be an integral facet in future digital marketing strategies.

What Periscope can do for brands

"We didn't start a live video company for the sake of having a live video company," Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour told Fast Company. "We wanted to build this thing that — perhaps crazily and stupidly — we keep calling a teleportation experience."

With Periscope, food and beverage manufacturers have the ability to "teleport" consumers to various places and scenarios that feature or promote a brand or product.

Experience marketing is one of the several new focuses food and beverage marketers are shifting toward, beyond the typical mainstays of taste, price, and convenience. Consumers want to know more about the products rather than the concepts behind them, marketing experts suggest, so bringing consumers closer to a product experience through live video streaming is one tech-savvy way to express that.

Coca-Cola, which has been leading the way for this new era of product-focused food and beverage marketing with its recent marketing overhaul, "Taste the Feeling," has dabbled in Periscope.

Manufacturers can use Periscope in a variety of ways to promote interest in a brand or product:

  • Staged marketing stunts
  • Product or brand announcements
  • Product releases
  • Event broadcasts
  • Interviews with celebrities and spokespeople
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • Contests
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at a product or company

The key is to engage consumers with a product or brand optimized for live streaming and encouraging real-time interaction with an audience.

How companies and brands use Periscope

Nestle (Drumstick, Butterfinger)

Nestle became Periscope's first sponsored stream adopter when its Drumstick brand launched a Periscope campaign last summer to celebrate the start of the season, "because Drumstick stands for those great feelings and connections that you make during the summer," said Kristin Rasmussen, marketing associate for Drumstick.

In the past, Drumstick has run this summer campaign through other media, such as Facebook, but this year, the brand wanted to try something new.

"Most of our advertising is really in digital, so we felt like it was imperative that we just dive in and get our feet wet and get our learnings before other brands started coming in," said Rasmussen. "Or, if there was an opportunity to put paid media behind it — we wanted to figure it out before it all went mainstream."

Nestle tapped Periscope again in December for its Butterfinger brand by using the service to live video stream a skydiving stunt that announced the brand’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial and new "Bolder Than Bold" campaign.

PepsiCo (Doritos Roulette, Doritos Collisions, Mountain Dew)

Doritos has also already held two Periscope events. It was the first brand to host a contest on the service for its #DoritosRoulette campaign as part of the product's launch. Viewers of the live Periscope contest were selected at random, and they received prizes based on where a spinning wheel stopped. Doritos also coordinated the contest through Twitter and Vine, where the brand announced the winners.

Doritos Canada tapped Periscope for the Canadian debut of its new Collisions variety — a 12-hour campaign with cannons shooting various objects at each other every hour on the hour. It was the longest Canadian Periscope broadcast ever, according to Matt Webster, marketing manager for Doritos, Young & Hungry Brands, at PepsiCo Foods Canada.

On the beverage end, PepsiCo ran a Periscope campaign for Mountain Dew that showcased Mountain Dew branded merchandise, which was given to select consumers who liked or commented on the Periscope stream. 

Red Bull

Red Bull was another early adopter of Periscope, having tested it at Miami Music Week to live stream events from the Red Bull Guest House. Red Bull has continued to utilize Periscope as event promotion to include consumers who can’t be physically present at the event.

Drawbacks to the technology

Despite early successes, Periscope can still leave something to be desired. The platform's audience is relatively small compared to other social media networks: 10 million viewers as of August 2015, compared to Twitter's 320 million monthly active users as of September 2015. Due to Periscope's still budding audience and an uncertain return on investment, brands may not invest as much in Periscope, as Rasmussen confirmed for the Drumstick summer campaign.

Also, metrics can be shaky, so brands may be testing the waters without much hard evidence to prove a successful campaign. Because Periscope is tied to Twitter, a brand can measure Twitter impressions, but one of the key interactive elements, the "heart," is not as straightforward a metric as a "like" or "retweet."

"We got almost 51,000 hearts, but one person can heart content multiple times, so that wasn't exactly a great KPI benchmark," said Rasmussen. "But we were glad to see that there was a lot of engagement."

Currently, Periscope doesn't offer an API, so brands can't yet use third-party platforms to more closely analyze performance metrics. Coordinating Periscope with Twitter provides additional insights, but even those are limited. Nestle coordinated the two platforms to the tune of 750,000 impressions, which are the number of users' streams where the Periscope tweet appeared. 

Periscope is a way for manufacturers to draw consumers into more intimate interactions with brands and products. Going forward, brands will decide whether pursuing a promising but still fledgling platform is worth the investment and whether live video streaming can help the industry usher in a new era of digital marketing.

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Marketing