Is live streaming the next big thing in e-commerce?

Live streaming is everywhere at the moment. Look online at any social network and you will see some sort of reference to streaming. Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are all encouraging their users to get on the Live Streaming train and broadcast their latest news and events, ideally from as engaging a slant as possible. Facebook is the latest channel to join the party and these guys are even notifying users when their contacts are streaming content in real time. Previously Live Streaming has been about increasing brand loyalty and engagement and exploring a new way of marketing a brand to followers. Live Streaming is about to enter a new dawn as it shifts away from basic brand awareness and integrates with eCommerce to become a fully functioning purchasing entity, with users being able to buy directly through the live streams. So where is eCommerce fusing well with Live Streaming and how can brands tap into this new sales channel?


First out of the blocks last year was Kohl’s, who became one of the first brands to fuse Live Streaming with eCommerce. Up to this point Live Streaming had really only been used by brands looking to engage users and then direct them towards their sites. In seeing the potential to make this new concept more about immediacy and buying on the spot, Kohl’s held a live event via Periscope, where they streamed their New York Fashion Week show live from the catwalk, on their newly mobile-optimized LC Lauren Conrad Runway dedicated site. Throughout the show users could purchase any of the clothing visible on screen directly through the site they were currently looking at. This was done via links to the relevant product pages integrated into the live feed. It was a great example of live streaming and live shopping, being married together perfectly. Spotting the potential for revenue, YouTube is reported to be stepping up its Live Streaming game, with plans for even more ambitious offerings, through the launch of YouTube Live.


YouTube Live is currently residing in the postproduction realms of the internet giant’s locker-room. The breadth of its functionality is not yet known, but one thing is for sure their plan is to become one of the most dominating Live Streaming modalities to date. The basic concept behind YouTube Live, is to provide links in the videos known as YouTube Cards which will be shown at certain intervals during the live broadcasts. The links will allow users to donate to fundraisers, contribute to fan-funded projects, in addition to redirecting those users to product pages, where the products displayed can be purchased.


This bridges the gap between Live Streaming and online shopping, seamlessly blending together the two mediums with a new and ambitious type of functionality, which provides a cohesive and easy transition between the streaming site and the brands product pages. The marriage of YouTube and eCommerce, will for the brands themselves present new ways of targeting consumers. Brands will be able to showcase their products on Live Streaming via their own YouTube pages and further tell their stories, with the added advantage of being able to direct traffic through to their product pages.


Furthermore, there will be the option to pay for ads before and during other Live Streams. These streams should ideally be those which your brand’s target audience will likely watch and enjoy. So aim to place your ads in the Live Streams which have a certain degree of synergy with your brand, so you can be guaranteed to target the right audience. YouTube Live is set to be the catalyst that starts a wave of eCommerce and live streaming partnerships.


Live streaming is at the forefront of New Media and is shaping the way people interact online. It feeds into the user’s desire for immediacy and 24 hour delivery of information on demand, in a format favoured by the individual. The consumer desire for all that we use and operate online to be multifaceted, has given marketers the opportunity to push their products online via new platforms, enabling brands to target their products even more directly.