Those Meerkats again, this time seen through a Twitter Periscope

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OK, so the Smoking Gun PR blog has been rather video-heavy in the last week or two. We’re aware of this, and for those who are already tired of reading things along the lines of ‘you need video in your brand’s PR plan or face the consequences’ we can only apologise.
Well, actually, there’s really no apology necessary- you do indeed need video in your brand’s PR plan, or there will indeed be consequences. Or at least missed opportunities by the up-load. One look at the amount of investment and activity in this area is enough proof that.
Seven days ago we ran a post on the ongoing development of Meerkat, a live streaming video network that, for a while at least, was getting plenty of support from Twitter. If you missed it, we christened the copy; Is the Meerkat the future of video social media or a species of rodent? Alas, though, times move quickly in the digital world, and today there’s yet more major news to support our theory that live streams are going to be a major talking point in 2015.
Introducing Twitter Periscope, AKA the reason Twitter has been making life more and more difficult for old Meerkat, which still relies on Twitter to publicise its streaming accounts and requires a Twitter account for people to set up their own profile. Launched on iPhone today, Periscope is owned by Twitter, and does all the things Meerkat does- live streaming of video footage taken by anyone and everyone- but supplements this with an option to replay that stream at a later date.
One of the huge drawbacks of Meerkat, which is also it’s major selling point, is the fact that once a stream stops broadcasting it is lost forever. Given the chance to grow into a multi-million user platform this could result in a lucrative ‘guaranteed-to-be-captive’ audience base. Like television in the old days, we know those watching are watching in real time, and this has obvious benefits to advertisers and marketing types.
That looks less likely to happen, now, though, given Periscope- which has the might of one of the world’s biggest established social networks behind it- has decided that we all deserve the chance to catch up with our favourite online streams; whether that’s a guy doing backflips on a trampoline, or front line reports from Gaza.
Presumably the choice has been made based on the fact so many Meerkat users were unhappy that they kept clicking on dead links to streams gone by. In many ways it seems unfair to have lulled Meerkat into a false sense of being the future, only to rip the carpet out from under the platform by launching a copycat, only without that fundamental drawback. That’s the value of hindsight, though, a lesson learnt from the way VHS followed Betamax with a lower quality but, crucially, lower priced take on the home video recorder.
So far the initial reports on Periscope are pegging it as the soon-to-be go-to channel for this kind of content. Which, given what we have briefly outlined above, isn’t particularly surprising. As The Drum states here:
Meerkat still looks like an app built in eight weeks — which it was. Periscope has been in development for more than a year, and the app arrives showing nice attention to detail. You sign in with Twitter, and the first thing you see is a list of streams that are currently live. Below it, you’ll see a list of recent streams. Not all can be played back — when you record yourself, you can stop your stream from being replayed with a single tap. But they save by default, and the result is an app that can actually be browsed.”
Fair point. We all want apps that look professionally made, and as many ways to source exactly what we want, when we want it, as is humanly possible. Nevertheless, to the untrained eye that description takes Periscope one step further down the YouTube route, and although rivals such as Vimeo have managed to carve out a niche within the creative, music and arts communities, YouTube has yet to be usurped from its throne in the video browsing world.
That said, perhaps the announcement today that Facebook is to launch a new, embedded video player within the network– another move to try and beat YouTube and parent Google- will beckon in a new, more democratised video landscape. Disregarding new warnings from the EU that if you don’t want to be snooped on, you should leave Zuckerberg’s big blue baby for good, and never go back.
All of this is interesting, and adds to the mounting evidence that, when it comes to where we go to for information and entertainment, we’ve been given so many options, for so long, it’s got overwhelming. As online traffic stats go to show, we’re  reaching a point where the biggest and most professionally run digital titles are the only ones people return to, again and again, unless what a website offers is truly unique.
In short then, by making us open yet more accounts, on an ever-increasing number of platforms, our time-starved lives will only become more time-starved, and nobody wants that. As such, whilst new indie startups should be welcomed, the desire amongst the public for simplicity alone could well mean they are dead in the water before they get off the ground.