Periscope Behavioral Impressions

Or Look, We Can Use Our Phones to Do What Pornographers Figured Out on the Web 20 Years Ago”

I installed the Periscope app a couple of weeks ago and have been using it intermittently since then.

periscopeBasically, while the technology might be slightly more sophisticated, layering in a modicum of social networking, it’s the functional equivalent of a live, handheld web cam.

Here are a few initial observations, mostly behavioral:

1 – When you hold your phone in front of you, while you’re walking or talking, you can’t avoid conveying the impression that you are filming. You might as well hold out a film marker in front of you, snap it shut, and yell “action!” because it equally attracts the natural curiosity of people that are walking towards you.

Thus, unlike a go-pro or body cam, which can film more subtly, the act of holding your phone in front of you is explicit. So, it’s harder to catch people in their natural states.

2 – When live broadcasting, I felt compelled to narrate the action, like a program host. On longer segments, I found the need to re-announce the subject matter of the broadcast every five or ten minutes, like Terri Gross does on NPR’s “Fresh Air” just before she takes a station break.

3 – The days and times that I had the most organic Periscope viewers were weekend mornings and weekday afternoons.

4 – It seems more viewers tuned in for lifestyle ephemeral, rather than purposeful, business-y broadcasts. My most watched broadcast was while enjoying a beer on the rooftop deck of our office building with a great view of the Texas State capital during which I answered questions about Austin.

The second most watched was crossing a bridge over Lady Bird Lake in central Austin while viewing the flower planters, shortly after SXSW 2015.

5 – I tried a couple of experiments to attract scheduled viewers, from my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but they were dismal failures (the experiments, not my friends/followers). My guess is that I didn’t offer a valuable enough incentive for people to schedule or remember to view the broadcast.

6 – I also tried to sneak in a live broadcast of former President Bill Clinton’s remarks from the Four Seasons when he was a guest dinner speaker for a China-US Private Investment Summit in Austin. My guess is that there were cell and wifi jammers in place that significantly slowed or prohibited broadcasting, because Periscope flat refused to work.

The app design itself is fairly simple and clean, which I expect to evolve via a rather constant series of tweaks as it gets more widely used. If I had one feature-function beef, it would be about archiving your broadcasts.

periscope-screengrabsAs best I can tell, when you save your broadcasts, it doesn’t keep a complete archive of all prior broadcasts available to you…just your most recent one or two.

They disappear from your stream in a day or two, after which all you have left to fall back on is the recording (if you choose to save them) of the video on your mobile device.

However, your mobile device recording is plain vanilla, i.e., it lacks the Periscope-enhanced information with the viewers’ handles, their questions, or the heart streams that they gave you while broadcasting, which is a bummer.

I suspect that may change in the future, hinting at the kind of functionality they will “turn on” for subscribing users, to monetize the freemium version.

Marketers Must Make Mobile More Maintainable …and an Announcement

A recent report by eMarketer projected mobile ad spend to reach nearly $2.55 billion by 2014, a six-fold increase from 2009. (BTW: the word “six-fold” inspired my alliterative headline, in case you were wondering.)

As a newsletter summary of these projections highlighted: “Numbers aside, just take a look around you. Know anyone who isn’t an arm’s length away from his smart phone? (Neither do we.)”

But, there’s a problem that accompanies this growth opportunity in mobile.  Many of the ideas that initially start as clever, mobile, interactive ads are increasingly growing in scope.  And, with the scope increase comes a sophistication in the ad design that begins crossing over into app development.

When a mobile, interactive ad is really an app, it’s important to reassess the conditions necessary to support and maintain it.  Unlike a one-time use or single-function “toy” for which it’s acceptable to run in isolation or occasionally break at a high volume of use, an app has to be secure, maintainable, and extensible.  

As more ads become apps, marketers must start expecting more from their development partners.  More re-use, more edge-condition testing, more mission back-end system integration.

In fact, I anticipate that the corporate marketing executives from large enterprises will increasingly turn to partnering options for their mobile initiatives that are with design & development studios first and foremost.

Likewise, I also expect to see more outsourcing of mobile development by traditional ad and interactive agencies to companies that specialize in mobile platforms that include technical skills, like speed and sound optimization, and that provide mobile infrastructure tools and capabilities which most agencies simply can’t afford.

This relentless, continued growth of mobile apps, as well as the simultaneous maturation of techniques, tools, and customer expectations, points to an irresistible opportunity in mobile software and services.

To that end, my announcement is a stake in a new venture called Appconomy. Newly out of stealth, but still under the radar, Appconomy is 100% focused on mobile business apps. You’ll be hearing more about the venture in the coming weeks, but in the meantime you can follow Appconomy on twitter.